It Sounds Like the Toyota Prius Will Get a Fifth Generation in 2022
Hints from Toyota suggest a new chapter for the hybrid that started it all.
The Toyota Prius holds a place in the automotive zeitgeist as the hybrid car. Toyota's pioneering nameplate has served it well over the years, and the company has seen fit to continue with a good thing. Thus, the Prius seems set to get a fifth generation, reports Autocar.
The original Toyota Prius was launched back in 1997, becoming the first hybrid car to be mass-produced. Initially available only in Japan, it was tweaked and put on sale around the world just three years later. However, it was the second-generation model from 2003 that became the recognizable face of hybrid motoring. Toyota sold just under 1.2 million second-generation Priuses, with the hybrid becoming somewhat of a cultural icon for the eco-minded set.
As the flagbearer for low-emissions motoring, the Prius maintained strong sales over the years. Two more generations followed, with the most recent Prius hitting the market in 2015. The technology quickly spread across the range, as well, with hybrid drivetrains now available in virtually every vehicle in Toyota's lineup.
Speaking to Autocar, Toyota product and marketing boss Andrea Carlucci touched on the value of the nameplate to Toyota. "It remains the pioneer into electrification – and has been clearly, for Toyota, an icon. It started our journey back more than 25 years ago," said Carlucci. Carlucci noted that the Prius will remain important, adding that "It has to keep a role, and we have to make sure it will always be a front-runner with that kind of technology, so, although I can't disclose much, we don't want to waste our icon, even for the future."
While much of the industry is pushing towards electric vehicles, Toyota has lagged behind, preferring to focus on hybrid and hydrogen technologies. The rationale is based around the rollout of charging infrastructure worldwide. Carlucci explained that "When we look at Europe, we define a region where we might have an acceleration; but globally, as we try to demonstrate the different solutions, we still have a center of gravity around the hybrid."
Estimates are that the next Prius would be set to hit the market in 2022, based on the six-year lifecycle of each previous generation. Details are scant, though speculation suggests that Toyota's upcoming 'E3' architecture could be used for a new Prius. The Europe-specific platform will support electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid drivetrains. Built upon existing experience, the design is expected to draw from the existing GA-C and bZ platforms.
While almost any modern Toyota can be had as a hybrid, it's clear that the company still sees value in maintaining the Prius line. The name resonates with customers looking for an efficient car with environmental credentials, and as long as EV charging remains tricky, hybrids will still shift units. Expect to see the new-generation Prius before long.
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