By on January 18, 2012

The compact hybrid Prius C went on sale in Japan (where it is called Aqua) last month. If you would buy one today in Japan, you would get your car some time in late spring. Toyota already has orders for more than 60,000. In order to not let the line grow longer, Toyota is cranking up its assembly lines at the Kanto Auto Works in Iwate Prefecture.

According to The Nikkei [sub] Toyota will make around 20,000 units of the new car this month, but will increase production to some 30,000 units in in February and March.

The car, touted as one of the most fuel-efficient cars of the world, should become available in the U.S. some time this spring. It will come with an EPA city fuel economy rating of 53 mpg, and a starting  MSRP of $19,000. Packaging the hybrid technology into a compact, and bringing the price down was an amazing engineering feat by the group around Toyota’s Chief Engineer Satoshi Ogiso.

I will drive the car tomorrow somewhere by the waterfront in Tokyo. It will be the Japanese spec, with the steering wheel on the wrong side and all. I will try not to take the thunder away from Alex Dykes, who has been invited by Toyota to attend a test drive of an undisclosed car, in the first week of February.  My hunch is it’s the Prius C.

In Japan, the regular Prius Hybrid is the best-selling model. The current production volume makes the Aqua/Prius C already the second-most produced car in Japan. If production can keep up with demand, the Prius C will most likely take the crown as Japan’s  #1 car this year.

 

 

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42 Comments on “Toyota Cranks Up Production Of The Prius C...”


  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i think toyota have got a winner here… in every market that matters

    a hybrid that doesn’t look like randy marsh’s smugmobile… and is cheap and seems to be enough of a ‘game changer’ (I’M SORRY!) that one must consider why they would buy a conventional Yaris or Corolla for similar money… unless you were after a hot hatch like a Mazda 3… which clearly isn’t on the Prius buyer’s radar

    every so often toyota hit gold – this is one of them

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      “i think toyota have got a winner here… in every market that matters”

      +1. This car is more bang for the buck than anything sold today. Costs as little as an equally equipped Sonic and gets 53 MPG!. As someone who hates Toyota, the Prius C is actually at the top of my list to replace three of my cars. The plan is to sell my 02 Focus, 91 TransAm and my GF’s 04 RX-8 to just one decent car for commuting, grocery trips, road trips etc. We have an Acadia if there is a need to haul more people or stuff. I hope this car becomes a huge hit worldwide. I also hope it loses money for Toyota.

      I will probably have to wait till next winter to get a good deal on it since gas prices will be too high in summer. I can’t wait to test drive this car.

    • 0 avatar
      afflo

      Man… the Prius sure seems to get under people’s skin. Other than being aerodynamic, it’s a pretty unassuming car… and certainly not as in your face or pretentious as a full-size pickup truck.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Some people buy a Prius to show how pious they are. Certainly a minority but one nonetheless. TTAC had a while back a video of a Prius driving shouting at a “lesser vehicle” owner.

        That is why I like the Camry and Fusion hybrids, they don`t shout their “specialness”. They just get on with it. Shame Hyundai had to make a statement with the Sonata hybrid.

  • avatar
    mike978

    I thought people complained about hyperbole when Derek used it for the new Fusion. Here BS is using it for the Prius C – “amazing engineering feat”. He may be right, but then Derek was also probably right since the Fusion is the first midsize car to be a plugin (with reportedly better mpg-e than the Prius plugin, Volt and Leaf) and has the most efficient midsize hybrid (hello Honda where is the Accord Hybrid?)

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      Picking on Derek was all in fun, at least that’s the way I took it.

      The Accord is getting revamped for 2013. Supposedly there will be a Plug In Hybrid. Doesn’t make much sense to invest in the outgoing model at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        It may have been fun, always hard to tell in text. Some people seemed annoyed that the Fusion was lavished with praise, which was the toned down in later articles and lampooned by Jack later. So it hit home whether it was in fun or not.

        I mentioned Honda because they started the hybrid thing with the Insight, which then went away for a long time and came back recently and has been criticized thoroughly. They also did a hybrid Accord but it was performance orientated and languished on dealer lots (I recall days to turn being around 240) and Ford and Toyota did the hybrid midsize thing much better. It is a shame that Honda who were leaders in this area essentially lost leadership.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Ford’s annnouncement of the plug-in Fusion basically made the Volt obsolete, so it was a big deal. Face it: what would you rather have as the basis for your plug-in: a new German Ford or an old Daewoo?

        Derek came from another site where the rhetoric was one level above what it is here. He’s adjusting.

        As for Bertel, last time I talked to him he was in Toyota City, surrounded by a dozen geishas. Draw your own conclusions.

      • 0 avatar

        It was a good baptismal by fire for me. But I think that some people took it (and themselves) too seriously. I couldnt say anything at the time due to the embargo but I felt that the plug in, among other things, was a big step forward.

        In any case, there seems to be two camps. If you say something more than lukewarm about a car, you are called a shill. If you criticize a car, accusations of undue bias are leveled.

      • 0 avatar

        My memory is failing me. I thought the last time we spoke was in a mediocre B.Y.O.B. strip club in Nashville where touching the girls was verboten …

    • 0 avatar

      I happen to agree with Derek’s choice of words. Prius C is an amazing engineering feat in the same sense Scion iQ is. It is not what is going to help it in the market though. Japan wants a small hybrid, that is the key.

      As far as Fusion goes, its engineering is quite solid, but it’s not all that amazing. It may offer some excellence in parts. In particular the turbocharged engine is rather good. But the one in Nissan Juke is even better, so Fusion is not, in whole or in parts, a class-topping “game-changer” in the way Prius C is. But it may be a better match for our market.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Pete – the words in this article are Bertel’s. I agree the Prius C sounds like great engineering. I just think the Fusion is too and wanted consistency in how hyperbolic words were sued. I agreed with Derek’s assessment that the Fusion is “gamechanging” as does autoextremist.com. Pete as you like small cars, you should look at the VW Up which is being critically acclaimed in Europe for its engineering.

        I completely agree with Jack that the Fusion plug-in makes the Volt obsolete (with the caveats of confirming the mpg-e and the final price). It also makes the Prius plug-in and Leaf obsolete too since most people would choose a “standard” spacious car with 100mpg-e rather than a much smaller, niche vehicle getting if anything lower mpg-e (and no range anxiety as with the Leaf). I say this as someone who thought the Volt was an interesting car and glad it got to market. However the Fusion does seem to have changed that game (and was first to it). I have a family of 5 and the Leaf and Volt are too small for that – the Fusion potentially works.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        The biggest advance in a sedan hybrid is, “Does the back seat fold down?” Folding back seats in a 4 door are a life saver if you don’t own a SUV or Truck. Molding, 2X4s, racks, shovels, etc.. are doable when the seat can fold flat.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        The Juke motor may be more impressive for its power production, but it’s a pig on gas. It’s likely just a matter of priorities between the tuning of the two motors.

      • 0 avatar

        It may be a matter of perception, but I consider Volt a political car. It cannot be “made obsolete” by Fusion. Volt never was relevant to begin with, except as a bargaining chip in GM bailout. Certianly not relevant in the market, not even relevant as a technology demonstrator. There is nothing over which the plug-in Fusion can triumph, IMHO.

        Now it may be the case that plug-in Fusion fights non-plugin hybrids like Prius C and EVs like Leaf, and wins. I do not consider myself qualified to make pronouncements about that: I drive a 18 mpg jeep.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Pete – the Prius plug-in is the same as the Volt in terms of basic design (15-40 miles on electric power, then using a gasoline engine, rechargeable at home). It is only considered political because GM makes it.

        Anyway my point about the Fusion is that with its stated efficiency and assuming it is priced correctly it makes the current crop of electric (Leaf), plugin cars (Prius plugin and Volt) or larger hybrids (Prius V) obsolete. It will only be a short advantage for Ford since other companies will of course make equally efficient and usable cars. It is the future for a large segment of the car market.

        The Prius C (which after all is what this article is about) is not rendered obsolete by the Fusion because it is much smaller and cheaper.

  • avatar
    marjanmm

    Is this a C class car? Despite the name, looking at the profile it looks more like a B class car (a hybrid Yaris) to me.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I would be about as surprised to see the Aqua take the sales crown in Japan as I would to see the F-150 take the sales crown in the U.S.; that is, not at all. This appears to be everything the Prius is, only smaller. The regular Prius is a bit bigger than average for a Japanese car, with smaller cars like the Fit/Fit Hybrid and Vitz chomping at its heels. You have to give it to Toyota, they know what their home market wants, and they make it.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Smaller, cheaper Prius with no real fuel economy gain from the current Prius. If it gets a REAL 50mpg, I can see its appeal to some, but I don’t understand why we are wasting so much engineering to make hybrids achieve small diesel engine fuel economy figures.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      Because they’re preferable(to most consumers) to small diesel engines in markets where diesel is more expensive than gasoline.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        The price premium of a hybrid offsets any high diesel costs. Instead of taking the hit at the pump, you take it at the dealership and in the form of a monthly payment.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        Are modern turbo-diesels any less expensive than a Toyota hybrid drive train? I think not, particularly if maintenance costs are factored in.
        As an example, Prius taxis outnumber any and all diesel taxis in N.A.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        Turbo diesel trucks with Allison transmissions, yes. Non-turbo 3 and 4 banger diesels are no more expensive than their gas counterparts. America is just allergic to diesel and hybrids are proof of the length we’ll go to avoid using “Satan’s fuel.”

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Wasted engineering? Not sure what you mean there. Anyway, I get 55mpg in a second gen Prius, so I expect the C to do better than that. It’s high on my list of cars to look at when I am shopping for a new commuter-mobile in a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      To get 50mpg in a small diesel you have to a) accept acceleration levels on par with grand-prix continental drift, and b) use European measures, which are highly optimistic (for example, the Prius scores 72mpg by that metric.

      • 0 avatar
        MarkP

        My 2001 VW Golf tdi (48-50 mpg all day long) is pretty slow from a standing start, but it does quite well from 50 to 80, where you actually need it. Sure, it can be beat handily by any number of small cars. But I still wonder why the drivers of those other cars never seem to think of “passing” when they drive behind slow trucks on 2-lane roads. It’s strange – I have had to pass a Corvette poking along in a line of traffic just to get up to the truck that’s leading the parade. So, basically, what I’m saying is that even my 11-year-old, 90-hp slow diesel can make good time if you use what it has. And I can get 700 miles on a tank.

    • 0 avatar
      stottpie

      because diesel isn’t really the jesus fuel people make it out to be. yea, it’s more efficient, but it’s also significantly more expensive. it’s dirtier, so you need more expensive emission equipment. you also need to have a turbo to have any semblance of power.

      these things add up pretty quick.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      In my opinion, this is not an either/or question. If you live in a city and/or have a stop and go commute, a hybrid is the ideal solution. Realistically an urban taxi is THE best use case for one. A lot of the time, the engine isn’t even running.

      But if you do long distance driving, a diesel is where it is at. Very efficient, without hauling an extra passengers worth of battery around with you.

      If it weren’t for the fact that you would be getting far into the realm of diminishing returns, a mild-hybrid diesel might be the ideal.

      And as to performance, get real. A VW TDI will blow the doors off a Prius in the real world, especially if there are long uphill climbs involved. I had the displeasure of having a Prius rental in the Rockies – it was fine until the battery ran out…. Or the road curved… If anything the current 2.0l 140hp TDI has more performance than it needs, as it is considerably faster than the old 1.9l 90hp versions, which were more than fast enough already.

  • avatar
    BlackDynamiteOnline

    This car would sell over 100k n the US this year EASY! It’s a Prius with a $5k price break and a smaller rear. It should fly off the lots!

    But I’ve heard Bob Carter (GM of Toyota USA) say they expect sales of only 45k, which tells me supply may be the issue with this car. Will be one of the toughest cars to find this Summer, WHEN gas is back to $4….
    BD

  • avatar
    boltar

    I’ll be interested to see how the Prius C affects sales of Honda’s Fit. Or whether it spurs Honda to do *something* in a non-glacial time period to give the Fit fuel efficiency numbers that are any better than any number of mid-size sedans’.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Ford’s annnouncement of the plug-in Fusion basically made the Volt obsolete, so it was a big deal.”

    How do you figure that? The Ford has a top speed of 62 MPH on battery power versus the Volts 100 MPH and they haven’t said how far it will go on battery power alone. What’s the price? Sounds good and I like it, but without all the facts, kind of premature to make that statement.

    Sorry if I’m not impressed that Toyota managed to build a cheap, smaller version of the Prius. Still needs gas to get from point A to B no matter how you drive it. I’m sure they’ll sell well, but nothing I’d ever consider buying.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      The Volt has a max speed of approx. 70mph on battery alone, to go faster it runs the gasoline engine in parallel to provide more oomph.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        This is not true, the Volt can do 100mph on just the battery.. there are slight difference but the Volt has the same performance in the EV mode or the Hybrid mode.

    • 0 avatar
      dhanson865

      Car X can only go Y mph on battery power statements are only true if the earth is flat. I’m not saying any one specific person here is guilty of saying it as though it’s literally true but it’s a common misconception that needs to be debunked.

      Any hybrid vehicle will end up charging the battery on the average when going uphill on a normal route. It will then have the option to use that energy to do Y mph + gravity assist on the downhill portion of the trip.

      So yes the Prius can do 99 mph without burning gas if you are going downhill no matter what the pundits like to quote about the planetary gears and so can the Volt and any other hybrid I didn’t bother to mention.

      And for anyone that wants to specifically quote the mph limitation on the Prius the key is that the IC engine has to spin above a certain speed it does not however have to be fed gas or power the spark plugs. It can spin freely with little resistance in this mode and you can maintain speed or accelerate downhill at speeds above the “electric only” threshold.

      • 0 avatar
        Herm

        The Prius and apparently the Fusion are limited to 62mph in EV mode due to RPM limitations of the electric motors.. they top out at 10k rpm or so. Volt switches “gears” to go faster, up to 100 mph.

        This 62mph limit is not a bad idea, you should be using the gas engine anyways.. hwy high speed travel drains the batteries very fast in an EV. As an example: a Leaf will do about 140 miles at 45mph, about 100 miles at 55mph and 70 miles at 65-70mph, approximately.

      • 0 avatar
        dhanson865

        @Herm, you just made the same mistake I was talking about.

        “The Prius and apparently the Fusion are limited to 62mph in EV mode due to RPM limitations of the electric motors” is what you said. But that isn’t exactly the full story.

        The Prius and apparently the Fusion are limited to 62mph in EV mode on flat level ground at a constant speed might be a more accurate statement.

        The Prius can go well over 100 mph and it can do EV only at any speed, the catch is that over a certain speed the internal combustion engine must spin, it does not however need to consume gasoline. It just spins freely.

        Put another way the Prius has these modes

        1. EV only, ICE stationary
        2. EV only, ICE free wheeling (no gas used)
        3. EV + ICE (both providing forward motion, uses gas)
        4. ICE only (uses gas)
        5. ICE – EV (ICE provides forward while EV is used to regen, uses gas)

        Just saying the Prius is limited to 62 MPH in EV mode is ignoring mode 2 in that list. I guarantee you that Prius cars all over the country go over 62 mph without burning gas on a regular basis.

        You also said “you should be using the gas engine anyways.. hwy high speed travel drains the batteries very fast in an EV”. Again this ignores slope/assumes a level roadway. When going downhill even on a slope that appears level to the naked eye it doesn’t take as much energy to maintain speed or even gain speed.

        All you need to do to see this is watch the instantaneous MPG on a long drive and watch the MPG vary as the speed stays the same. Any time the instantaneous MPG is above 50 MPG or so you could be running in EV only mode no matter the current speed.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    I would buy this over the regular prius which we were considering because its shorter and fits in more parking spots. We have a bigger vehicle when we need to carry luggage + 5 people, the Prius C looks perfect for 2 adults + 3 young children for the types of driving we primarily do.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I have three young children too. I would be amazed if this could hold all three and their required car seats. That is why I think the Fusion is more promising. Maybe the C will be bigger than the Leaf (31 inches of rear legroom!)

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Their three boosters fit across the back of a Honda Fit…with a few inches to spare. If this car is at least 50 inches wide in the rear seat, three boosters will fit. We didn’t buy the Fit because of its modest fuel consumption.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “The Volt has a max speed of approx. 70mph on battery alone, to go faster it runs the gasoline engine in parallel to provide more oomph.”

    Not true. That’s only once the battery has been depeleted and it’s running in charge sustaining mode. Having demo’d a Volt for 2 days I can tell you from first hand experience that it effortlessly cruises at 80 MPH, spewing nothing but electrons as long as the battery hasn’t been depleted.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    Volt can go 103 without the engine, its calibrated maximum speed.


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