The entire Toyota Prius lineup may end up going plug-in hybrid (PHEV), going by recent comments made by the assistant chief engineer for the Prius Prime, Shoichi Kaneko, to AutoblogGreen.
The comment was part of a series concerning the difficulty in creating the next generation of the Prius (5th gen) after all the previous improvements of the last decade and a half — in others words, after all of the obvious means of improvement were pursued.
“Ultimately, PHEV may be the way to go,” Kaneko stated (through an interpreter).
AutoblogGreen continues: “Kaneko’s comments mirror those we’ve heard from Toyota before. Back in 2013, Toyota Motor Corporation’s managing officer Satoshi Ogiso said that, ‘To beat your own record becomes very difficult,’ when talking about improving the Prius’ fuel economy for each successive generation. Toyota needed to make many little improvements to get the fourth-gen Prius to the fuel economy levels it has — currently, the most efficient Prius is the Eco trim line, which gets 56 combined, 58 city, and 53 highway MPG — and so to push the fifth-gen to, say, 60 mpg is incredibly hard. Putting a plug on every Prius would move the brand forward, keep it relevant, and meet the company’s objectives.”
Kaneko also commented that Toyota put a great deal of work in maximizing the Prius Prime’s competitiveness. “While the company is confident that the new car will be a success, there’s a lot riding on its new double wish-bone rear suspension,” AutoblogGreen added.
Strangely, according to Kaneko, if sales of the new Toyota Prius Prime PHEV aren’t that great, then the company may “reconsider” its strategy pursuing the technology.
Because that’s the only reason that the Prius Prime wouldn’t sell well? Because people prefer a non-plug-in-hybrid to a plug-in one? Nothing to do with the strange design of the vehicle? Nothing to do with the fact that there are soon to be Chevy Bolts and Tesla Model 3s available? Nothing to do with the fact that the Chevy Volt offers a lot more and purer electric driving? Toyota execs mystify me sometimes.
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