Toyota may be adding by subtracting when it comes to the biggest Prius. The Japanese automaker just came off a year where sales of its world-beating Prius were cut by a combination of lower gas prices and what appeared to be a decision by customers to wait for the new-generation Prius liftback. Now, Toyota is thinking it may be better to do without the Prius V wagon altogether, and possibly the Prius C compact hybrid as well, according to Automotive News.
Toyota introduced the Prius family – including a wagon and compact variant of the hybrid (as well as the Prius Plug-in) a few years back with visions of having the Prius line usurp the Camry and Corolla to become Toyota’s top seller. The company even went as far as changing the names of the compact (which was known as the Aqua in Japan) to bring it within the golden halo of the Prius. Those grand family plans appear to have been dashed. Toyota is now saying that sales of the standard liftback Prius may jump 30 percent this year, now that the new generation has been introduced last month (check out our First Drive review here).
Why might the idea of an all-dominant Prius family take a back seat? Automotive News, citing Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz, says the V may be particularly irrelevant because of last year’s introduction of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid SUV. A Toyota spokeswoman Amanda Rice said that no specific decisions have been made yet about the future of the Prius C or the V.
“The previous-generation Prius continued to perform in line with our expectations, which is especially good at the end of its life-cycle. In fact we saw a best-ever December and best-ever calendar year sales result for the Prius family in the State of California in 2015, our largest Prius market,” Rice wrote in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen. “Fuel prices are at a five-year low, which tends to spark more trucks and SUV sales. But Toyota’s hybrids are still strong. Overall Toyota hybrids account for more than 60 percent of the market; we recently hit our 8 millionth sale globally. We take a long-term view when it comes to our product decisions, because while fuel prices are currently low, they will ebb and flow.”
Last year, collective Prius sales fell 11 percent to almost 185,000 units, and were especially hurt by the 68 percent plunge in Prius Plug-in Hybrid sales. Liftback sales dropped 7.3 percent to almost 114,000 units, while the C and V variants’ sales declined 5.1 percent and 8 percent, respectively.
2015 Toyota Prius V: LA 2014