By on June 3, 2019

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e blue - Image: Toyota

The proliferation of hybrid vehicles has relegated the venerable, once-dominant Toyota Prius to a lesser plane of influence. This isn’t breaking news, as Toyota has seen the volume of its Prius family slide since 2012, falling below the six-figure mark last year for the first time in 14 years. Volume in 2018 was less than half of the number sold just six years earlier.

Still, the model’s decline stings. As May sales numbers roll in, the former darling of the green crowd finds itself outpaced even by a Ford sedan with no future. (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2019

On Wednesday, Toyota announced plans to offer royalty-free access to its cache of hybrid technology patents. While the automaker already licenses aspects of its Hybrid Synergy Drive to other automakers, the new strategy seeks to drastically expand the use of its systems as the world gears up for widespread electrification.

Toyota, cautious as ever, has been understandably hesitant to throw itself headlong into costly BEV development programs. It did have the foresight, however, to jump into hybrid technology earlier than most other manufacturers, and doesn’t want to see that edge lost as battery-only vehicles grow in popularity. Providing open access to the nearly 24,000 patents on hardware used in the Prius and Mirai could help the company stack the deck in its favor.  (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2019

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e blue - Image: Toyota

When it comes to electric vehicles, Toyota’s North American CEO seems to be on a different page than the company’s big boss, Akio Toyoda. A different page than Ford and General Motors, too. Maybe it’s because Toyoda has the entire globe in his sights, including many EV-hungry markets, while Jim Lentz can only look around, see low, low gas prices and a niche market dominated by a single player, and feel a rush of meh.

Lentz aired his views on our would-be electric future Wednesday, suggesting it would take draconian measures by the government to pry a healthy slice of Americans away from the gas pump. He’s not too enthused with Tesla, either. (Read More…)

By on December 18, 2018

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e - Image: Toyota

As America’s new vehicle market shifts to vehicles with four driven wheels, greater ride height, and dog-friendly tailgates, it seems more than sensible for the Toyota Prius to take part in some community outreach.

The Prius, America’s 10th-best-selling car just a decade ago, can keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Or, the Prius can make a significant change – via available “independent electric, magnet-less rear motor” – to offer all-wheel drive, one of the feature sets that’s drawing car buyers away from cars.

And that’s exactly what Toyota has done for the otherwise refreshed 2019 Prius (reviewed last week by our own Matt Posky). In a manner of speaking, Toyota expects big things from the Prius AWD-e: 25 percent of Prius customers, to be precise.

But one-fourth of all Prius volume is not what it used to be. In fact, it’s a far cry from what it used to be. A mere fraction of what it used to be. One-quarter of all Prius volume will make the Prius AWD-e barely more common than the Alfa Romeo Stelvio. (Read More…)

By on December 14, 2018

While an inarguable success for Toyota, the Prius lost considerable clout through some odd styling decisions, a market trending toward crossovers, and smug owners who put a sour taste in everyone else’s mouth. I was never really a fan of the model, but I appreciated what it offered — outstanding economy, sufficient utility, and rather good comfort (especially in the current generation) for a reasonable price.

Hoping to reach new customers living in the snowbelt and restore some of its lost groove, Toyota has updated the Prius and will begin offering the model with all-wheel drive. Well, I say “all-wheel drive,” but things are a little more complicated than that.

The 2019 Prius AWD-e utilizes a small, magnetless motor to drive the rear wheels, while keeping the aft axle completely independent from the existing 1.8-liter hybrid system and its own pair of motor/generators. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to explore the new system in the wintry wilds of Wisconsin to see if it’s any good.

(Read More…)

By on November 28, 2018

While we’re not sure if consumers were ever really clamoring for an all-wheel drive Prius, Toyota has decided to grace North America with one for 2019. And it would have been a monumental surprise for the kissless virgins that make up the brunt of automotive journalism, had Toyota not already telegraphed its move by selling the model in Japan.

That’s alright, though. Average Joe had no clue such a vehicle already existed in Asia and we’d imagine most Prius fans will just be happy they’ll have an opportunity to buy one that can conquer snowy, mountainous terrain. Whether or not the 2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e can traverse glaciers on a thimble of fuel remains to be seen, but this seems like a wise move. People are constantly coming up to us and explaining how they “have to have” all-wheel drive and Toyota’s premier hybrid could certainly use a sales boost right now.

Perhaps this mid-cycle makeover can help with that.  (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2018

 

hybrid air

Maxim writes:

Just saw your post about running out of questions. Just wanted to say that you have a fan in Montreal, Canada! Love the subjects you guys talk about!

Everyone is talking about electrification and hybridization, but battery cost is a big negative point. PSA (group Peugeot Citroen) has developed a hybrid air system using compressed air as an alternative to electricity. A very smart and cost effective system. Where is that system now?

Why are the manufacturers not using tech like this to reduce their fleet MPG? (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2018

2016_Toyota_Prius_v, Image: Toyota

A Washington State Patrol trooper was confronted with occupational difficulties earlier this month while attempting to pull over a woman driving a Toyota Prius with expired tags. The woman, 42-year old Jamie Petrozzi, was headed southbound on I-5 through Marysville two Wednesdays ago when the trooper turned on his lights and attempted a traffic stop.

The driver made no attempt to stop on the highway and, instead, exited a mile later before finally stopping at an intersection. From here, the highway patrolman ordered her to pull over using his loudspeaker. Petrozzi declined to cooperate, forcing the trooper to approach the side of the car and instruct her to pull off the road. “I will not,” she said, according to the arrest report. “I drive a Prius. I am not pulling over there.”  (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2018

2016_Toyota_Prius_v, Image: Toyota

Toyota is recalling over one million Prius and C-HR crossovers due to engine wires that pose a potential fire risk. Involved in the call-back are roughly 192,000 vehicles in the United States, according to estimates made by the automaker on Wednesday. However, the vast majority of the 554,000 affected vehicles reside in Japan.

While no injuries have been reported, an alleged incident occurred in February 2018 where a wire harness connected to the vehicle’s hybrid power control unit shorted out.  (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2018

Honda has launched a new media campaign for the Insight, a model that stages its third reappearance for the 2019 model year. The media push frames other hybrids as ugly, boring vehicles you have to settle for in order to gain superior fuel economy. There’s a social media initiative that transforms everyday objects into something more interesting and a television spot where other vehicles mill around while covered in bubble letters that spell out “blah” or “meh,” with horns and engine noises to match.

But the whole ad seems counterintuitive. The Insight ditched its funky wheel coverings after the first generation, which was followed by the loss of the glass-back hatch. Now it’s a pretty normal looking vehicle. You might even mistake it for a miniature Honda Accord.

That’s not an insult; the Accord isn’t a bad looking vehicle, but it also blends in easily with traffic. A large part of that is due to its popularity, but it still calls into question the whole premise of the ad — which serves to portray other hybrids as mundane.  (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2018

Hyundai Ioniq Blue, Image: HyundaiRick writes:

Hi Sajeev:

With the demise of diesel cars and 21 gallon fuel tanks, I am on the hunt for a true long-range cruiser. The “old” diesel cars were big, comfortable and had a freeway range of over 800 miles. Not that I would actually drive 800+ miles in one sitting.

But, with highway construction and traffic delays being what they are nowadays, an 800 mile range boils down to a usable 500 or 600 miles or so of real range-free worries. And yes, I have been known to do a single day 1,000+ mile trip. So, a sedan or coupe (van maybe?), comfortable on a long trip, and reasonably reliable. I do a lot of overnight driving.

And, no “add a fuel tank.” Lets keep it stock. Suggestions? (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2018

2016 Toyota Prius Four - Image: Toyota

I’ll never forget gazing at the latest iteration of the Toyota Prius for the first time. Much hand waving ensued, along with words to the effect of, “No, this is all wrong.”

Styling is subjective, but as hybrid and electric vehicles enter the mainstream, designers haven’t exactly copied the space-age looks of the fourth-generation Prius. In fact, in a bid to avoid scaring off customers, automakers have charted a course for the safe and non-threatening.

That leaves the Prius as the odd man out — a model enamored with triangular shapes that eyes the Hyundai Ioniq, new Nissan Leaf, and upcoming Honda Insight with worry.

It’s makeover time! (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2017

2018 Toyota C-HR front LA: image - toyota

Late last week, Toyota announced it will conduct separate U.S. safety recalls of around 28,600 C-HR crossovers from the 2018 model year and approximately 39,900 Prius Plug-in Hybrids from 2012-2015.

For the affected C-HRs, there’s a possibility that the electronic parking brake might not operate properly. Toyota claims there is a chance the parking brake won’t disengage after it is applied. There is also a chance the faulty electronics might prevent it from being applied in the first place, which is a little more serious. In addition to creating a possible rollaway risk in certain situations, the automaker says it would be in noncompliance with a federal safety standards. (Read More…)

By on August 9, 2017

2016 Toyota Prius Four - Image: ToyotaIf current marketplace trends hold, the Toyota Prius will not be America’s best-selling hybrid by next year.

The steep rate of decline experienced by the Prius in 2017 is no surprise. For one thing, it’s a continuation of the decline we saw earlier in the fourth-gen Prius’ tenure. For another, there are new Prius competitors, such as the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota’s highly efficient 2018 Camry Hybrid. But the Prius’s rapid slide — sales are down by a third so far this year — is also what Toyota predicted at the turn of the calendar.

Yet even if the rate of Prius decline suddenly and unexpectedly slows, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Toyota Prius, long the dominant hybrid in America, holds onto its crown as the top seller for long.

The victor in 2018 will, however, almost certainly be a Toyota. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2017

Image: Toyota Prius with jazz Solo Cup paint

Making its way around the internet lately is this photo of a Toyota Prius, tastefully modified by its present owner. Dancing boldly across the side of the hybrid is the iconic 1990s teal and purple Solo Cup theme. This jazzy decal is well known to anyone who has drank a beverage between 1992 and now.

(Read More…)

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