Mini Prius Not For Europe… So Who Is It For?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Though not technically a new debut at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, the “Prius C” concept was probably the most interesting vehicle Toyota showed at Cobo Hall this year. If nothing else, it certainly shows the promise of an expanded Prius brand far better than the “Prius V.” And if there’s a single market where this “baby Prius” can give Toyota’s eco-brand spin-off a boost it would be Europe, where small, efficient cars rule. But, it seems, this is not to be. Autocar reports

The strength of the Japanese yen seems almost certain to keep a production version of Toyota’s near-80mpg hybrid supermini based on the Prius C Concept hatch out of Europe.

The Auris hybrid and forthcoming Yaris hybrid (with which the C Concept, revealed at the recent Detroit motor show, shares a platform) are built in the UK and France respectively, which gives them much stronger profit margins than a small Prius model sourced from Japan.

But isn’t spinning off a brand supposed to be about long-term marketing rather than short-term profits? Isn’t Toyota giving up on ever making its Prius brand a player in Europe by cannibalizing it with a Yaris Hybrid? And if so, why spin off the Prius brand at all? Against the backdrop of Hyundai/Kia’s recent passing of Toyota to become the top Asian automaker in Europe, this move seems all the more short-sighted and reactive. Especially considering that

despite the supermini being unlikely to reach Europe in production form, the concept has been conceived with European-flavoured driving characteristics. “European drivers demand a high level of agility and feedback in their driving, so our planning is taking that into account,” said chief designer Elvio d’Aprile.

It’s ironic: Toyota built itself into one of the most trusted brands in the world through sheer focus… and now it’s headed for an oh-for-two record on its brand spin-offs.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Forraymond Forraymond on Jan 21, 2011

    A convertible version of this car would hot.

  • Forraymond Forraymond on Jan 21, 2011

    How long til we run out of places in the world that offers cheap labor (and no ecological standards and no worker safety rules)?

    • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Jan 22, 2011

      Decades. There's Africa yet - although the Chinese are trying to buy most of it.

  • Kars This article was about Ford not Tesla - you are clearly confused.
  • Ollicat Those are individual charging stations vs entire gas stations that have 8 - 16 pumps. And gas stations take 3 minutes to fill vs 30 min to hours for a charging station. And gas pumps are much more likely to be working vs charging statins. Nice try with more propaganda though.
  • Richard Poore Sure, as the article itself notes (hence my ire) California has mandated that all new vehicles sold in state be EV by 2035. They require EV or hybrid by 2026. Since the author admits to this mandate it seems that the article title is clickbait... was really hoping that there was some sort of changes in the CA position since the state is sorely behind on where they need to be with charging stations for this sort of requirement.
  • VoGhost When will Audi eliminate the fake, oversized grills that impede aerodynamics?