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.