Why Two Compact Hybrids? Demographics Play a Role, Toyota Claims

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
why two compact hybrids demographics play a role toyota claims

For two decades, the name “Prius” was all a committed Toyota buyer needed to know when searching for a compact hybrid vehicle. Soon, there’ll be two options, not counting the plug-in Prius Prime.

The automaker’s decision to offer a hybrid version of the still strong-selling Corolla was not made to usher its famed hybrid model into the shadows; rather, there’s two key reasons for it. Sure, the Corolla nameplate carries an enviable reputation and boatloads of name recognition, but Toyota’s also willing to admit that the Prius’ attributes just weren’t resonating with a certain segment of the American public.

To be clear, the next-generation Corolla Hybrid is not earmarked solely for U.S. buyers. It’s on its way to 90 countries.

Jack Hollis, general manager of the Toyota Division at Toyota Motor North America, told Automotive News that the first reason for expanding the brand’s compact hybrid presence involves fuel economy standards. The Corolla nameplate still sees boffo volume, and a hybrid version would help Toyota’s standing in the eyes of environmental regulators.

The second reason to water down the Prius’ importance in the lineup involves the type of buyer who might be in the market for a Corolla hybrid. The Prius just doesn’t play well with Hispanics, he claimed, but the Corolla does. As Hispanic buyers show a strong desire for Japanese brands, the presence of a gas-electric Corolla might sway hybrid shoppers into staying with the brand.

Lassoing resistant buyers is also the motivation behind Toyota’s unveiling, last week, of the all-wheel drive Prius AWD-e. While the Prius has seen its status (and sales) shrink amid newfound competition and the presence of PHEVs and battery electric vehicles, it’s still the first name that comes to mind when anyone mentions the word “hybrid.” But what works for buyers in one region might not work in another.

According to the model’s chief engineer, Shoichi Kaneko, the addition of AWD to the Prius’ equipment roster came about after Northeastern dealers demanded a Prius that could tackle the region’s notorious blizzards.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • APaGttH APaGttH on Dec 03, 2018

    Sales have shrunk? The Prius is looking at its worst sales year since 2004 with sales in free fall. Off 9% YTD and off over 26% in November. A lot of other automakers would look at a decline off of a 198K peak with a struggle to get to 85K units a decade later just 2 years after a refresh as a dead product walking.

  • Chris724 Chris724 on Dec 03, 2018

    I just bought a Ford Fusion hybrid. Anyone know how to remove the "hybrid" emblems?

    • See 2 previous
    • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Dec 04, 2018

      They are held on by double stick foam tape. If you can get a good grip twist them off. If you can't get a grip a plastic scraper to tear the foam followed by using your thumb to roll off the remains of the tape.

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.