Toyota wrote the book on how to successfully market a hybrid automobile with its Prius franchise, but today’s aging model has seen its fortunes slip.
Keen to jumpstart sales of its eco-minded halo car, Toyota has confirmed that a new fourth-generation Prius will see its global media introduction in Las Vegas on September 8. The new model will replace today’s XW30 platform (shown), which has been on sale largely unchanged since a 2009 revamp.
While Toyota has remained essentially mum on the model, the next Prius is expected to maintain the current generation’s now-iconic teardrop shape, but otherwise be a clean-sheet design. The new Prius will almost certainly built atop the Toyota New Global Architecture, and be lighter and more efficient than the XW30, which nets 50 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving. Toyota has not released any fuel efficiency or pricing targets for the model.
Today’s Prius is in its twilight. Toyota With its current generation, Toyota expanded the Prius nameplate to embrace an entire family of gas-electric models, including a plug-in variant, the larger Prius V, and the inexpensive Prius C, none of which has manage to sell anywhere near as well as the standard car. It is not clear if or when these other models will be replaced.
The new-generation Prius is crucial to Toyota, which is looking to claw back both sales and green mindshare from a crop of electrified rivals that largely didn’t exist when the current model first went on sale. Low fuel prices haven’t helped the fortunes of all alternative-fuel vehicles, instead, booming SUV sales have been driving auto maker profits in recent years. Despite this development, Toyota’s hybrid model offerings still vastly outsell all other auto companies’ alt-fuel offerings combined, and the Prius leads that charge.
The next Prius will do battle against an increasingly-crowded fleet of hybrid, plug-in and pure-electric models, with a new Chevrolet Volt and an updated Nissan Leaf among its most prominent rivals.