Not Ready for Prime Time? Toyota Delays Prius Plug-in Launch
Toyota has pushed back the launch dates of its next-generation Prius plug-in hybrid, spelling a black Christmas for environmentally conscious motorists.
According to Reuters, the model — known as the Prius Prime in the U.S. — won’t bow this fall in Japan, and production will be cut back to match reduced demand. It’s not a great start for a model the automaker clearly worked hard on.
The 2017 Prius plug-in boasts new refinements and distinctive styling that sets it apart from its regular hybrid siblings. Besides the visual differences, the plug-in boasts an 8.8 kWh battery pack good for 22 miles of all-electric range, after which the vehicle operates like a normal hybrid.
Japan was first on the list of countries to receive the plug-in Prius, and it still is, though buyers can expect it to arrive this winter, not this fall. The North American and European launches were supposed to happen in late fall, but those plans could be in jeopardy.
Toyota hasn’t explained the delay, though speculation on the cause ranges from worry over the model’s new battery packs to concerns about demand. These days, low oil gas prices and the popularity of SUVs and crossovers make hybrids a tough sell.
“We decided we want to take our time and more care before starting mass manufacturing,” a Toyota spokesperson recently told The Detroit Bureau. Detroit-based spokesperson Rick Bourgoise told the publication that, “The full volume inventory will just be slower than anticipated.”
Toyota wants to sell 60,000 Prius plug-ins per year, with sales split evenly between Japan and North America.
The prior-gen Prius Plugin was a sales dud, as was the Honda Accord Hybrid Plugin. Both had serious price premiums attached to that option, which is hard to justify when the car already gets close to 50 mpg. The Volt plugin succeeds because it's lower cost, better-looking, and the plugin feature isn't a tacked-on option. The new Sonata Hybrid Plugin received good reviews, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's a sales dud also. The ones I find are already being discounted 20%.
Why is Toyota wasting time/money developing a battery Prius? I thought they said the future was in hydrogen!.....LOL
I still think Prius should become its own brand. Instead of this they should have debuted a Prius crossover. Would need a bigger engine but the Prius V doesn't cut it functionally or aesthetically. RAV4 hybrid is meh. If they could get the Prius crossover to over 35 or even 40 MPG combined it would be a smash.
No one needs a 4 seater near luxury Prius with a laughable trunk, no matter how small or large the battery is. At least someone pushed the red button, which is a good sign in terms of corporate culture.