Toyota, Aka Hybrid King, Storms Into New Year

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
toyota aka hybrid king storms into new year

We told you late last year how the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is the hybrid the Toyota Prius wishes it could be. The two models have essentially swapped positions, with eco-minded American consumers now eschewing the pius hatch in favor of the brawnier image and accommodating cabin of the gas-electric compact CUV.

It brings to mind this morning’s QOTD, frankly.

End-of-year sales starkly illustrated the diverging paths of these two models. This week, the automaker is basking in more good sales news, both for hybrids and conventional vehicles. On the electrified front, at the very least, there’s good reason for Toyota to be very optimistic about 2020.

With the introduction of the new-for-2019 RAV4 and its hybrid offspring, Toyota saw hybrid sales rocket upward in the United States. Total sales of Toyota-badged hybrids rose 26.3 percent last year, with electrified Lexus models jumping 43.1 percent.

A big boost came in the form of the RAV4 Hybrid, now featuring an independent electric propulsion system motivating the rear axle. Sales of that model nearly doubled, rising more than 92 percent by year’s end. At the end of 2018, RAV4 Hybrid sales had fallen 5 percent, partly owing to the new model introduction.

In comparison, the Prius, now a singular bodystyle offered in regular and PHEV flavors, saw its popularity drop 20.4 percent last year. In 2018? Excluding the departing Prius C and V, combined sales were down 13.7 percent.

The hybrid model that ignited the hybrid fire at Toyota just happens to be the one shedding the most volume.

With January out of the way, we can see that the first month of the new year was a good one for Toyota. According to the Automotive News Data Center, sales of all vehicles rose 6.3 percent across both brands, but hybrid sales were something else. At Toyota, sales of electrified models rose a whopping 126 percent, year over year.

The RAV4 Hybrid plays a role in this impressive figure, as in January of last year the new model was just coming online (with sales down over 63 percent, YoY). Take that into consideration when you hear of the sixfold increase in sales of that model last month.

Two products scheduled to land within the next six months will surely add wind to the brand’s hybrid sails (sales?). The first, a more fuel-efficient hybrid variant of the new-for-2020 Highlander midsize crossover, lands this spring. Highlander Hybrid sales rose 25.7 percent last year.

The second shoe to drop is a plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4, making a trifecta. It helps that the RAV4 Prime appearing this summer is also the quickest RAV4 in the model’s history, according to the manufacturer.

While it would be hard to top the regular RAV4 Hybrid in terms of volume, it’s interesting to note that, in the last year before Toyota combined the Prius and Prius Prime in its sales reporting (2018), the plug-in model was on the ascent.

[Images: Toyota]

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6 of 13 comments
  • Peter Gazis Peter Gazis on Feb 04, 2020

    NO FULL SALES REPORT FROM TOYOTA. NISSAN MOVES TO QUARTERLY REPORTING Without any notification. Both Companies are hiding something..

  • JohnH JohnH on Feb 05, 2020

    I was pretty excited about the RAV4 Prime - if they don’t fix the fuel tank issue -I’m out though . Also I wonder is the 0-60 in 5.8 and the 300 HP only w the battery fully charged ? What if it’s empty?

    • See 3 previous
    • JohnH JohnH on Feb 10, 2020

      @dal20402 Thanks very much very helpful and great information!!

  • Analoggrotto Too bad they don't sell Kia Telluride, the greatest selling vehicle in it's class over the pond in the UK who burned Washington DC down but that's ok.
  • Analoggrotto Kia Telluride never faced such problems and now offers a superior offroad trim for those times where soccerdad needs to go get the white claws from costco.
  • Zerofoo There's a joke here somewhere about Tim's used car recommendations, Tassos, and death traps.
  • Tassos Subaru really knows how to take fugly to ever higher levels, and sell every one of the (of course very few) it makes. As if the number of sales negates the fugliness.Don't hold your breath. I bet this will NOT be the vehicle James Bond arrives at the Casino in Monte Carlo with in his next flick. (if any)
  • ToolGuy Government overreach. Park the Ford in your air-conditioned garage on a maintenance charger and this won't be a problem.Here's some (old) general background if you are interested.@ILO, there are 3 Fords, and Ford Pro™ is the one with the bright future 🙂