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Posts Tagged ‘prius plug-in’

Toyota Primes up PHEV Market with New Prius Prime

Better equipped, lower priced, sales could double original plug-in.

by on Mar.23, 2016

The Toyota Prius Prime makes it NY Auto Show debut.

Toyota is nothing if not persistent, occasionally missing the mark, only to come back with a new model that’s closer to target – and that’s what the Japanese giant is aiming to do with the Prius Prime making its debut at the 2016 New York International Auto Show.

The Prime takes the place of Toyota’s original, largely ignored plug-in hybrid, roughly doubling its range and, the maker hopes, doubling the earlier model’s sales. It should help that the 2017 model will come in at a lower price point, even while offering more content including an array of advanced safety features.

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“Our goal is to have it be a great value,” brand boss Bill Fay told following the public unveiling of the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime at New York’s Jacob Javits Center.


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 C-Max Energi Gets 108 MPG Rating – But Will Buyers Notice?

Ford hopes higher mileage numbers will carve into Toyota's battery-car dominance.

by on Oct.12, 2012

Ford gets a critical endorsement from the EPA that could help it target the Toyota hybrid family.

Ford has been taking aggressive aim at Toyota this year and borrowing a page from the Japanese giant’s playbook in the process, focusing not only on new battery-powered models like the Fusion Hybrid and C-Max but also by bragging that some of Ford’s newest offerings deliver better mileage than the Toyota alternatives?

The latest salvo follows the EPA’s official assessment of the Ford C-Max Energi, the plug-in version of the new “people mover.” Despite being the size of the larger Prius V, the EPA has rated the C-Max Energi at 108 miles per gallon in city driving and 100 in the highway and combined measurements.  That’s 5 mpg better than the smaller Toyota Prius Plug-in, a version of the original member of the new Prius “family.”

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But will potential buyers care?

So far, Ford has had only modest success in the battery-electric market.  While Toyota currently produces about half of all battery-based models sold in the U.S., Ford’s market share has slipped by more than half over the last year to barely 4%.


Toyota Makes it Official With $50,000 RAV4-EV Launch

Maker promises 100-mile range, sporty performance.

by on May.07, 2012

The Toyota RAV4-EV will be sold in only 4 "select" California markets.

Toyota is charging into the electric vehicle market.  Barely two months after beginning sales of its first plug-in hybrid the Japanese giant has officially launched the new RAV4-EV, a fully-electric version of its popular “cute-ute.”

Priced at $49,800 — before a $7,500 federal tax credit – the Japanese maker plans to use the RAV4-EV to test market interest in battery-electric propulsion which got off to a slow start in 2011.  Significantly, the battery-powered ute was developed as part of an unusual alliance between Toyota and California electric vehicle start-up Tesla Motors.

(For more on Toyota’s increasing reliance on joint ventures and alliances, Click Here.)

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The RAV4-EV is expected to get “approximately” 100 miles range and Toyota estimates it will be able to recharge in as little as six hours using a high-power charger. It will meanwhile deliver similar performance to that of the conventional, gasoline-powered RAV4 crossover-ute, according to the maker.


EV Sales Show Positive Trends Despite Volt Cutback

Fuel price hikes could boost demand.

by on Mar.05, 2012

The Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf.

Despite GM’s decision to shut down Volt production for five weeks, starting later this month, capping a raft of adverse publicity, sales of electric vehicles are actually running well ahead of last year’s pace.

Sales of both the Volt and the Nissan Leaf both increased in February. Between them, GM and Nissan sold more than 1,500 battery-based vehicles during February, making it one of the best monthly sales totals ever for the emerging technology. Leaf sales increased 617%, year-over-year, while sales of the Volt increased 264%, according to the latest sales number from February.

(Despite its recent problems, the Chevy plug-in also reported a 60% gain from January, when demand plunged as federal regulators probed potential problems with the Volt battery pack.)

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EV sales are still running short of the targets set by Nissan and GM but are expanding and the combination of higher pump prices for gasoline and a stronger economy will lift EV sales, according to a number of industry analysts. In addition, more models are coming to market in the months ahead, and that should boost momentum.

Chrysler Group, for example, has confirmed the Fiat 500 EV will go on sales later this year, as will the Ford Focus Electric, Toyota’s Prius plug-in and RAV4-EV and Honda’s Fit EV. Overall, battery vehicle sales could easily double in 2012, by general consensus.

Of course, the question is whether that will be enough to sustain momentum. Until recently, GM had been planning to produce 60,000 plug-in hybrids in 2012, up from about 10,000 last year – with 45,000 of them aimed at the American market.  The maker has not said how the coming shutdown will impact its plans for the full year. But a spokesperson insisted momentum is building despite what GM sees as a temporary setback – in part because an updated version of the Chevrolet Volt will now qualify for the coveted California HOV lane sticker.

(For more on the latest Chevy Volt news, Click Here.)

Meanwhile, carmakers right across the board are growing more comfortable with the forecasts they’ve made for the overall U.S. market, which show sales growing by double digits across the board. Every major automaker reported sales increases — and while GM lagged with a very modest 1.1% gain, it actually exceeded expectations.

Several companies, such as Nissan — with a sales increase of 15.5% — as well as the Korean twins, Kia and Hyundai  — set sales record last month .

“Nissan’s momentum throughout the lineup continues to drive our growth,” said Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division. “Another strong month for Nissan Altima demonstrates that consumers are increasingly turning to Nissan for quality and reliability in the midsize car segment.”

Even brands such as Mitsubishi and Suzuki , which saw sales dwindle during the recession, posted double-digit sales increases in February which, overall, exceeded even the more optimistic forecasts for the month.

Meanwhile, brands with significant new product launches, such BMW and Mercedes-Benz, reported sales increases of more than 30% as more new vehicles made it into dealer showrooms.

Toyota also increased sales in February. For Toyota, not only did the Camry score big, but so did the new Yaris minicar.

“Fuel economy remains top of mind for consumers, and they’re responding to Toyota’s lineup, which is the most fuel efficient in the industry,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “Camry sales continue to surge, and Prius, Yaris and Scion all posted double digit gains in February. We expect that high gas prices will continue to be a top purchase consideration for consumers, which bodes well for Toyota’s continued growth in 2012.”

It should also bode well for battery-based models, according to Carter, whether relatively conventional hybrids such as the new Prius C – the lowest-priced 4-seat gas-electric model on the market – or more advanced offerings such as the RAV-4 EV Toyota plans to bring to market this year.

Significantly, that vehicle was developed in cooperation with California start-up Tesla Motors, which also hopes to go mainstream in mid-2012 with the launch of its own Model S sedan.  Competitor Fisker Motors, is now ramping up production of its own Karma plug-in hybrid sports car, with a more mainstream vehicle, codenamed Project Nina, on the books for a 2013 launch.

Fisker is struggling to renegotiate a $529 million DoE loan, however, leading many observers to wonder if it will make it until then.  A number of other battery-car start-ups have folded after failing to line up necessary financial support, most notably Bright, which pulled the plug last week – (Click Here for more) – and Aptera, which powered down late last year.

With a few exceptions it is beginning to look like any real boom in battery power will benefit the traditional automakers rather than the start-ups some proponents had been counting on.

Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.

Toyota Plug-in Concept Debuting in Detroit

Will accompany debut of Prius c.

by on Dec.20, 2011

Toyota offers a tease of a new plug-in hybrid model debuting at the Detroit Auto Showw next month.

Toyota will pull the wraps off an advanced plug-in concept vehicle during next month’s Detroit auto show – along with the production version of the maker’s new Prius c hybrid.

The Japanese giant isn’t saying much about the advanced plug-in but it is expected to offer significant technological improvements over Toyota’s first plug-in, a version of the conventional Prius hybrid that is just going on sale in the U.S. market.

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The Prius c, meanwhile, is set to become the newest – and smallest – member of an expanding “family” of gas-electric models sharing the Prius badge.  Both vehicles debuting in Detroit will be part of a push by Toyota to prove it remains a leader in the emerging market for “green”vehicles.


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 Prius Plug-in Model to Get Selectable EV Mode

Japanese maker taking steps to enhance new model’s relatively limited range.

by on Jun.16, 2011

The Toyota Prius Plug-in makes its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year.

When Toyota brings the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid to market next year, the vehicle will include several features designed to get the maximum mileage on battery power, including a switch that will let the driver decide when to run in electric vehicle mode and when to operate as a more conventional hybrid.

The maker hopes that will help overcome the limitations of a small lithium-ion battery pack that is expected to deliver only about 13 miles in EV mode, or just over a third of the zero-emissions range of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in that came to market last December.

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Industry analysts have raised questions about the benefits of a plug-in with only 13 miles range, though Toyota Vice President Bob Carter has defended the decision, insisting that is enough for many motorists,  especially since the Japanese maker hints it will price the Prius Plug-in well below the roughly $40,000 –before federal tax credits – Chevy gets for its battery car.  That hefty premium over a similarly-sized Chevrolet Cruze has also drawn criticism and led the General Motors division to lower its price tag by more than $1,000 on the 2012 Volt.


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.


Cadillac Developing SRX Plug-In Hybrid

System would differ from Chevy Volt technology.

by on Dec.22, 2010

Cadillac is developing a plug-in hybrid version of its new SRX crossover, sources say.

General Motors’ new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid could soon get a little brother, this time wearing a Cadillac badge.  Make that a big brother, as the maker will likely add a battery-based version of Caddy’s SRX crossover.

Several GM sources tell that a battery-based model is under development and could reach market in the next two to three years as part of a plan to expand Cadillac’s line-up while also positioning the brand as a serious player in advanced – green – technology, a sector where it currently lags many of its import and domestic rivals.

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Two years ago, Cadillac gave a hint of what could come when it unveiled the Converj concept vehicle.  The distinctive little prototype was intended to use the same driveline as the Chevy Volt.  But while there was initially a push to bring the car to market, interest waned as GM managers had to turn their attention, last year, to the company’s desperate financial problems.