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2016 Toyota Prius Faces Tough New Challenges

Japanese maker hopes to broaden appeal in an era of cheap gas.

by on Sep.09, 2015

Toyota will boost the mileage of the 2016 Prius by 10%, to around 55 mpg.

It’s not only the world’s best-selling hybrid-electric vehicle but has routinely been one of the top sellers overall in green-minded markets like California and Japan. Now, Toyota is launching an all-new version for 2016, but cheap gas prices may be just one reason why the Toyota Prius could face its biggest challenge yet, industry experts warn.

The market has been flooded with hybrid competitors since the Toyota Prius was last redesigned in 2009, along with a variety of other high-mileage options. Meanwhile, sales of battery-based vehicles, in general, have been plunging this year. That helps explain why Toyota is downplaying fuel economy and putting more of an emphasis on the other attributes of the new Prius, including what it promises will be a more fun-to-drive road manner.

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The new model “has a certain presence to it that will appeal to a broader range of buyers,” said Bill Fay, general manager of the Toyota brand in the U.S., following the unveiling of the fourth-generation Prius Tuesday night in Las Vegas.


Toyota Rolls Out 4th Generation Prius, Promises 10% Mileage Increase

2016 Prius is longer, wider, lower - but more conventional in styling.

by on Sep.09, 2015

The 4th generation Toyota Prius rolls out during a splashy preview in Las Vegas Thursday night.

Amidst the glitter and glow of the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip, Toyota put the emphasis on energy efficiency as it unveiled the eagerly anticipated, fourth-generation Prius hybrid Tuesday night.

The world’s first battery-electric vehicle, the Toyota Prius has helped usher in a new era of advanced powertrain technology, but the compact model has been losing momentum at a time when cheap gas has many buyers migrating back to SUVs, pickups and muscle cars. Toyota is again boosting the fuel economy of the Prius, but the 2016 hybrid also is longer, lower, wider and a little more mainstream in appearance.

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“It’s going to expand our appeal,” said Bill Fay, general manager of the Toyota brand in the U.S. Where the original model largely targeted a “practical buyer concerned about fuel economy,” the 2016 Prius “that will appeal to a broader range of buyers.”


Toyota Set to Unveil All-New Prius

New model expected to be larger, more sophisticated, more fuel-efficient.

by on Aug.19, 2015

It's unclear what Toyota has in mind for the next-gen plug-in version of the Prius.

What goes up must come down, something even the world’s most popular hybrid-electric vehicle has experienced in recent months. So, Toyota officials have reason to be excited as they get ready to reveal an all-new version of the Prius next month.

Like virtually all battery-based vehicles, sales of the Prius has been hit by low gas prices in recent months, but it remains the world’s most popular hybrid – and one of the best sellers among all vehicles in the big California market.

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The Toyota Prius hasn’t had a major update in seven years, and early reports suggest the new one will grow longer, get a little more power, improve fuel economy and possible stretch its range in all-electric mode. Some reports indicate an optional lithium-ion battery may also become available on the 2016 Prius.


Flood of New Hybrids Take Aim at Toyota Prius

Dominant Japanese model tops 3-million sales mark.

by on Jul.08, 2013

The Toyota Prius continues to dominate the hybrid segment...but it is facing some challenges this year.

Once a rare technology limited to a handful of – mostly Japanese – manufacturers, the industry is unleashing a flood of new hybrid vehicles for 2014 covering just about every niche on the market.  Automakers such as BMW, Ford and Hyundai hope their latest offerings will finally give them the momentum they need to take on the hybrid segment’s best-selling brand, Toyota, which underscored its dominance with the sale of its 3 millionth Prius last month.

For many potential buyers around the world, in fact, the Toyota Prius is no longer a niche vehicle.  The gas-electric hatchback may be the most popular hybrid in the U.S. – routinely outselling all other hybrids combined — but in Japan it is now the best-selling vehicle overall.

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“They’ve turned it into an iconic status of fuel efficiency – whether you love it or hate it,” says Dave Sullivan, automotive analyst with AutoPacific, Inc.  “It’s the benchmark of hybrids.”

That said, 2013 could be a challenging year for Prius. A senior Toyota official cautions that the hybrid might fall short of its sales targets, something that certainly wouldn’t upset competitors like Honda.


Ford Fusion Nabs Green Car of the Year Award

Judges swayed by mix of powertrain options.

by on Nov.29, 2012

Ford plans to play up its Green Car award in spots coming soon to a TV near you.

Despite the popular media’s fixation on battery power, automotive insiders are quick to caution that there is no “silver bullet” solution, no single technology that will likely meet all the needs for tomorrow’s clean and efficient automobiles.

That message was hammered home by the choice of the 2013 Ford Fusion as the Green Car of the Year, an award designed to focus the spotlight on the latest clean-tech automobiles.

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A key to the decision was the fact that the new midsize sedan offers a broad range of powertrain alternatives, from conventional gasoline power up to an all-new plug-in hybrid.

“That’s an example of automotive democracy,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal, the organizer of the annual award.


Toyota Reports Dealers Down to 4 days of Prius Inventory

Though overall hybrid sales sliding, Toyota officials hope for strong launch of new Prius v.

by on Jun.21, 2011

The debut of the Prius v has been pushed back about two months because of the Japanese earthquake.

While its factories are rapidly getting back up to full speed following the devastating March earthquake in Japan, Toyota dealers are struggling to meet demand for the popular Prius with barely a “three to four-day supply” of the world’s best-selling hybrid model, a senior official said.


By comparison, makers consider a 50 to 60-day supply to be normal for most products.  The shortfall likely resulted in a 30 to 40% shortfall in sales of the Prius during May, said Toyota’s hybrid marketing manager Ed LaRoque.

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The crisis, which all but shut down Toyota production the first month after the March disaster—and continues to leave its plants running below capacity — has also forced the maker to delay the launch of its new Prius v, the first in a “family” of hybrids to share the same brand identity as the original Toyota model.  According to La Roque, the debut of the v, a larger, wagon-like take on the familiar hybrid sedan, will be “a few months behind,” and probably won’t reach U.S. showrooms until around October. The maker is meanwhile hoping to start rebuilding supplies of the original Prius over the next several months.



Toyota Already Planning Production Increase of New Prius V Hybrid

Dealer orders outstrip Toyota projections - but will consumer demand keep pace?

by on Jun.08, 2011

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda with the Prius V.

Strong, early demand is leading Toyota to sharply increase production of its all-new Prius V hybrid, the second model in an all-new brand-within-a-brand of gas-electric vehicles.

The maker – still struggling with production cuts due to the March 11 Japanese earthquake and tsunami – hopes to start rolling out 5,000 of the Prius V hybrid wagons by August or September, up from initial plans to build 3,000 a month.

Toyota is hoping that the Prius V will help sales of its hybrid models rebound from an unexpected slowdown in the key U.S. market once it goes on sale in the fall.

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Known in the U.S. as the Prius V, but sold elsewhere as the Prius Alpha, the new hybrid will be the second model to bear the familiar Prius badge.  Toyota plans to create an entire line-up of gas-electric models sharing the Prius name, including a small hybrid, tentatively dubbed Prius C, due to reach market about a year from now.  A plug-in version of the original Prius will also be introduced in 2012, and the maker hints other hybrid models could follow.