Toyota Prius Chief Engineer Hoping to See Prime Hit One Million Sales

Toyota’s chief engineer of the Prius series cars would like to see the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid hit the one million units sold mark over its product lifecycle.

Prius chief engineer Koji Toyoshima told Reuters in an interview this week that he would like to see the Prius plug-in replicate the sales growth pattern of the conventional Prius in the next decade or so. He said that the Prius plug-in hybrid is set to become Toyota’s showpiece “eco” car during that timeframe.

The Prius Prime will be launching in Japan, North America, and Europe in the near future.

The conventional Prius was able to hit the one-million mark in its second generation launched in 2003. The third generation was launched in 2009 and was able to hit the 2.5 million units sold mark.

Toyoshima laid out the sales strategy in “hop,” “step” and “jump” phases.

The plug-in hybrid version, which was launched in 2012, was only able to stay at the “hop” phase by eclipsing with 75,000 units sold worldwide per year. That number will need to go up to 200,000 units sold per year to hit the one million target over the model cycle.

“We need to see that kind of volume with the plug-in during the upcoming ‘step’ phase, as we did with the second-generation conventional Prius, to achieve the momentum to get to the ‘jump’ phase,” he said.

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Toyota pulled the plug on the first generation Prius plug-in hybrid last year, disappointed with poor sales. Limited range and a relatively high price limited sales according to Toyota. Toyota is hoping that doubling its range on the battery-powered motor to 22 miles will help the Prius Prime in sales.

Toyoshima thinks that Toyota’s official sales target for the second generation would likely be lower, given that demand for plug-in vehicles remains limited worldwide.

Hitting Toshima’s goals of reaching the one million sales market for the Prius Prime would play a significant part of the automaker’s corporate goal of making all its new vehicles nearly carbon free by 2050. It would also help the company comply with tighter global regulations on building and selling more lower emissions vehicles.

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