“Prius has become to hybrids what Kleenex is to tissues and Levis are to jeans.” So said Bob Carter, group VP and general manager of Toyota U.S.A. With so much brand power, it would be a waste to have only one Prius. From now on, Toyota has three. The Prius received a bigger and a smaller sibling, with the idea towards creating “a modern family with a Prius for everyone.”
A couple of days ago I wrote about how Peugeot is looking to South East Asia for the next area of big growth. I also mentioned in the article how Peugeot will have a tough time trying to crack that market. Toyota, Honda and Nissan already have a pretty tight grip on that area. Well, it appears that Toyota has put forward their first defensive stroke.
What’s that? We still haven’t plumbed the depths of our bag-o-automotive-sales-data thoroughly enough to have published annual sales for the Toyota Prius? Well, here it is, my truth-starved friends: ten years of Prius sales, culminating in two consecutive years of falling sales. And granted, most nameplates are down over the last two years because the market has been down for a solid two years now. Also, if you think the downturn is due to gas prices, you’ve got a surprise waiting for you after the jump. So has the Prius lost its luster? Could the most culturally significant passenger car of the last ten years be running out of steam (or whatever it runs on), or is this just a natural drop in demand in line with a weak market?
Hybrids are flying off the lots in Japan, with Toyota’s Prius leading the charts for the 12th month in a row. Before, that spot was taken by another hybrid, the Honda Insight. In the Battle of the Hybrids, Honda introduces a fighter that hits below the belt, at the wallet: Honda will launch a hybrid in Japan that will cost around $17,000 in today’s dollars, “making it the most affordable hybrid in Japan,” The Nikkei [sub] says. The Nikkei sees a hybrid price war erupting in Japan.
“Studies show that stating “studies show” will increase your chances of winning an argument.” That’s just one of 63 bumper stickers adorning a 2005 Prius, on scifi, the cosmos, numbers, philosophy, and political sentiments that cleverly question the status quo.
The owner is Amy Sutherland, a middle school history teacher who now home schools her youngest. The Prius, the family’s only car notwithstanding, the Sutherlands prefer to walk and take transit when possible, which in Cambridge, Massachusetts is most of the time, and on those odd occasions when two cars are needed, Hubby drives a Zipcar. Truth be told, Amy Sutherland doesn’t particularly like cars, not even the Prius. It’s a necessity, and one she’s not the least interested in fetishizing, unlike those nuts in Hollywood (and unlike a certain ICE-smoking automotive scribe).
Imagine you’re an automaker which enjoys an unprecedented drivetrain technology advantage over all other manufacturers. Imagine you build a brand around that drivetrain that becomes a cultural touchstone, a symbol of your firm’s technical prowess and commitment to the environment. What do you do next? The obvious answer is to build a luxury version to help make the extra profits needed to pay for the drivetrain’s development, right? Well, Toyota did just that, piggybacking the Lexus HS250h on its strong Lexus brand and Prius technology. The only problem? It’s not working.
There’s a first time for everything. In this case, being admonished by my wife for “only doing 30.” To which I readily replied, “Babe, we’re still accelerating!” Welcome to the 2010 Prius, loved by owners, hated by many non-owners. I asked Toyota to lend me one for a week so that I might get past the hype and anti-hype.
Ask the good folks from Hybridcars.com what today’s big news was, and they’d probably point to their own scoop, titled Hyundai Has Prius-Killer in the Works. It can be hard for blogs to get OEM reps on the phone, and Hyundai’s product public relations manager Miles Johnson walked an enticingly vague line:
We are studying a dedicated Prius-fighter vehicle, meaning a hybrid-specific nameplate that isn’t based off a Sonata or a Santa Fe. It’s its own thing. We’ve also been studying plug-in hybrid technology, which is a bit farther out for us, but the near-term would be a Prius-sized vehicle… You can look at the dimensions of the Blue Will concept and see it would be a similar package and size to a Prius.
With Hyundai launching its first US-market hybrid, the Sonata, later this year, this is yet another sign of the big H’s relentless momentum, right? Well, not exactly…
Chandler, Arizona, NBC affiliate Channel 12 has the harrowing story of a runaway Toyota that nearly killed a boy.
Driver Chuck Schmeiser pulled his 2008 Prius into a grassy parking lot. A boy helped the driver ease up the car to a berm and park the Prius. Then, says Schmeiser, “The car just accelerated, went over the berm, and at that time we did hit that young man.”
“If we lose that case, we will lose heavily” said Toyota in Delhi’s High Court. The judges had no sympathy for Toyota’s pleadings. Their decision might impact seriously on Toyota’s plans to market the Prius in 40 countries worldwide. As if Toyota doesn’t have enough problems with recalls and class action suits, now this:
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- Carlson Fan The way the truck drops in the rear and the bed/tailgate become a ramp is genius! I'd buy it just for that alone!!! It would be awesome for loading snowmobiles and garden tractors in the back. However, my trucks need to be able to regularly tow heavy loads long distance, summer & winter. Sorry folks, current battery tech. isn't even close to what it needs to be for me to think even one second that a battery truck could replace my current ICE powered truck. An EV for a DD makes sense , but for truck you need a MUCH better battery.
- Inside Looking Out For midsize sedan it is too small. It basically is a compact car.
- Stodge I test drove the 200S and damn, its suspension was so firm, I was convinced it didn't actually include suspension at all. It hurt my spine and hip, it was that firm.
- MRF 95 T-Bird If Mopar had only offered sport hatch versions of the 200 and or Dart they might have sold more of them for folks who wanted some more versatility without having to go for a small utility Compass Patriot or new at the time Renegade or Cherokee.
- El scotto I started driving in the late 70's. The cars high school kids could afford and wanted were very very worn out muscle cars. Oh Lordy those V-8's bring back some happy memories. Oh there some outliers in my crowd, a VW Bug and a Dodge Scamp with slant six; neither car would die. In 10 years their will be young people wanting very used Teslas or Dodge's with hemis. B&B, I say that if someone is excited about their EV, Hybrid, or Hemi welcome them to the club of people who like cars.