Toyota Has To Find A “New Direction” For The Next Prius

The Toyota Prius is the definitive hybrid, but it has lost a lot of its luster thanks to low gas prices and a consumer shift towards crossovers.

Toyota is attempting to address the latter issue by offering an all-wheel drive system on the 2019 Prius. It features an additional electric motor which powers the rear wheels at speeds up to 43 mph (69 km/h).

The automaker has high hopes for the model as they believe the all-wheel drive variant could soon be responsible for 25 percent of Prius sales in the United States. The all-wheel drive system should also make the car more appealing to consumers in colder climates where snow and ice are a fact of life.

While the all-wheel drive system could help to increase demand, they is no denying that Prius sales have fallen off a cliff. As recently as 2014, Toyota was selling more than 200,000 units annually in the United States. That number has nearly halved since then as buyers only snapped up 108,661 units last year.

Toyota is aware of the problem and is said to be considering major changes to the next-generation model. Speaking with The Detroit Bureau, Toyota’s Koichi Kaneko said the company has to figure out how to separate the next-generation Prius from the rest of the Toyota lineup. However, he doesn’t believe the Prius should transition into an electric or fuel cell vehicle because it would eliminate the car’s purpose of being an affordable, no-comprise green machine.

Kaneko went on to say they need to find a “new direction” for the next-generation Prius. This could potentially result in a huge change as the publication suggests Toyota might consider turning the Prius into a crossover or add a crossover to the Prius lineup. That could be a smart move as some people believe the RAV4 Hybrid could soon become Toyota’s best-selling hybrid.

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  • Un Tipo Serio

    What about not being the ugliest car in the market?

  • DJ

    Omg really ! What drugs are they taking. The reason sales dropped is because the current model is THE ugliest car to ever be sold and ever will be sold. This car is so ugly it makes people physically ill. The sight of it is enough to cause anger, rage, seizure, and mental collapse. I know I’ve understated a bit but, hopefully Toyota will get the subtle hint.

  • Zandit75

    They’ve cannibalized their own sales by offering a hybrid system in so many of their other models, what did they expect? Especially when the Prius looks so “out of left field”, people just want a normal looking car that is efficient.
    The Prius is a wasted and obsolete model. The Mirai is uglier still, and needs a major overhaul to garner any interest.

  • FordMopar

    I am LOVING this…. The trend of having a Prius is finally dying! Just do hybrid verison on any other Toyota vehicles and be done with. Just because it’s a hybrid, it does NOT have to look like a futuristic car.

    • Matteo Tommasi

      The prius isn’t futuristic, is bad

  • Able

    Prius sales are falling because Toyota makes hybrid variants of so many other cars they make. It’s no longer a unique car and consumers no longer have to put up with weird styling and crap driving dynamics by buying something else.

  • Ramin Shafai

    The first time I saw the current design of Prius I knew sales were going to drop. It looks like it fell out of an alien’s nose…

  • stelvio

    Just kill it. The powertrain is already available in other models

  • EM1

    Toyota in comparison to other makes knows how to simplify over engineering. Long before the X or Y, Tesla had a small partnership with Toyota and developed an electric powered RAV4. Now that Tesla opened it patents, let Toyota develop a simpler Model III under the Prius moniker.

  • SpongeBob99Swell

    Well… maybe turn it into a Plug-In Hybrid (to rival the Leaf, etc) if the upcoming Corolla Hybrid cannabilises its sales?

    • brn

      You’re confusing me.

      The Leaf is not a plug-in hybrid.
      There has been a plug-in variant of the Prius since 2012.

    • James Denz

      The Leaf is a pure electric, not a plug-in hybrid. The Prius came as a plug-in hybrid during the last generation but poor sales forced Toyota to abandon that model.

      • SpongeBob99Swell

        ..you’re right. Thanks for correcting me. Maybe Toyota can turn the Prius into a pure-electric vehicle if the Corolla Hybrid outsells it by a big margin.

        As for the Prius Plug-In.. they actually do have the Prius Prime now for that matter in case you didn’t know.

  • THEY COULD SEPARATE IT FROM THE REST OF THE TOYOTA LINEUP BY MAKING IT ATTRACTIVE.

  • Blkshr

    It is just too ugly

  • TheBelltower

    The decline of the Prius has very little to do with low gas prices or the shift to SUVs. It has everything to do with who their customer is. The Prius owner is (often) affluent, frugal and interested in the environment. A bit of unorthodox design is fine, but they don’t want a car that looks ridiculous. The reality is, the current Prius looks like a dented dumpster perched on top of office chair wheels. There are many better vehicles today that tick the boxes that ex-Prius owners are interested in.

  • eb110americana

    They could make a very efficient Corolla hybrid to take the place of the Prius. I feel like hybrids will be so ubiquitous, that the Prius will have to be a PHEV to justify its distinction from other cars. It probably would make sense to go to a compact crossover body style. If they can get at least 20 miles of electric range, and around 50 MPG from that, it would justify the continued existence of the Prius franchise. It wouldn’t hurt to sprinkle it with a little bit of the Tesla magic to make it special beyond extended mileage.

    • Matteo Tommasi

      The corolla hybrid (same powertrain as the prius) is already here from 2012

  • Start with the design!! Make it desirable 1st then work your way up to the goodies and efficiency!

  • Yishay

    They should not be surprised in any way, shape, form or fashion. The car is hideous. We told them it was hideous and they built it anyway.

  • MarketAndChurch

    The Prius is already a family. Just add an SUV and problem solved. It’ll instantly be the greatest selling member of the Prius family.

    • Miknik

      A Prius SUV is out soon, we have seen prototypes testing;

  • Cobrajet

    They have to make to full electric now, turn it into a Tesla rival.

  • Justin Spencer

    Not everybody wants a crossover! That shows considerably as the Prius sells better than a lot of well known and well respected cars…..that’s not bad for a niche product!

    I think the Prius AWD will probably attract new customers that normally wouldn’t buy a Prius like myself perhaps! I’ve always liked its futuristic look and who wouldn’t want to get all-weather traction and 50MPG’s?!?!?

    I would like to see the interior gauges moved to their proper place behind the steering wheel and a push button system to replace that awful joystick shifter. The Prius definitely still has a following and Toyota should be careful not to change too much!

  • Miknik

    Well, first, Toyota has basically a Hybrid version of every car on sale now, so Hybrid customers not longer only can choose the Prius, and combined Hybrid sales of Toyota are growing, so they are probably fine with people choosing a larger model or CUV with higher margin; Plus in that general price range Hyundai and Kia have added alternatives, especially the Ioniq looking also a lot like a Prius, and being popular as a cab as well;

    Another big point is that the early adopter crowd is moving on to full electric, especially Tesla – and there the Model 3 as an alternative closer in pricing – so yes, the “Look I’m green” part of customers is moving on as well.

  • haji

    >but it has lost a lot of its luster thanks to low gas prices and a consumer shift towards crossovers.

    I think the main reason is something else. And it’s pretty obvious.

  • supermanuel

    I know that lots of comments below cite the spectacular ugliness of the current model as the reason sales have ‘fallen off a cliff’, but really, it can’t be said enough- the Prius isn’t selling because it is truly f * * king hideous.

    • Scherpereel Clement

      True ! One of the ugliest car of the market ! And it’s wierd because the Prius C isn’t that ugly !

    • Shtekeris

      Yep, I would consider one, but the whole dashboard in the middle thing and the way it looks.. it’s just, noo, no. No thanks, it’s too weird.

  • sigma7777777
    • Un Tipo Serio

      Ok, the second ugliest car in the market is coming

  • StrangerGP

    Step 1: Don’t make people’s eyes bleed when they look at it.

  • Six_Tymes

    yes, they sure do. because continue going with ugly is never a good idea. the current version is the worst yet.

  • flyfish

    I rented one of these in Phoenix last year, it’s OK when you are inside. As many have commented, it is hideous to look at. FWIW, I averaged 24MPG for my 3 day rental period. Never buy a rental, just a little friendly advise ;-).

  • WalthamDan

    Get rid of the pig snout front end and then maybe people would stop pointing and laughing at it.

  • Jan Smith

    The 2G was the best looking car. I think Toyota thought we were going to buy Prius no matter how it looked. They were making fun of us by putting out hideous looking vehicles like the Prius. Wrong!

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