Toyota Plug-In Electric Car Sales Flop In 2015

1 year ago by Mark Kane 25

Toyota Prius PHV sales in U.S. – December 2015

Toyota Prius PHV sales in U.S. – December 2015

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Toyota has “withdrawn” early from the first version of the plug-in hybrid Prius, which has led to a sales flop in 2015.

That was bad news for plug-in market overall in the US, which last year lost some 10,000 expected Prius PHV sales.

The new Prius Plug-In Hybird is to be available in late 2016 or in 2017, so 2016 will bring a Toyota void that certainly the Mirai will not be able to fill.

To be accurate – 72 hydrogen fuel cell Mirais were “flying off virtual shelf” in the last three months of 2015 in the wake of just 147 Prius PHV sales in Q4 (down from a high 4,114 sold in Q4 two years ago).

From mid-2012 through the end of 2014, Toyota also sold ~2,500 RAV4 EV, but the limited joint project with Tesla has been shut down.

It’s sad that plug-in progress from one of the largest car makers was so heavily slowed down intentionally. In the early years of US plug-in vehicle sales, the Toyota Prius PHV was the 2nd best seller in 2012,  3rd in 2013, but has dropped to 9th for 2015 – next year we estimate a ~25th place finish.  Ouch.

2nd Generation Toyota Prius PHV Won't Make An Impact Until 2017 (2nd Gen Sketch Design Leak via Mobile.Autonet)

2nd Generation Toyota Prius PHV Won’t Make An Impact Until 2017 (2nd Gen Sketch Design Leak via Mobile.Autonet)

However, all is not lost:

With fuel economy standards and regulatory credits needed that the fuel cell program will not be able to cope with, the new Prius PHV with an estimated ~30-35 miles on the JC08/Japanese standard (which translates to 20-22 miles in real world/EPA ratings), should once again climb high on the sales charts.

Historically, converting standard Prius Hybrid sales to plug-ins has been demonstrated to be a relatively easy thing for dealers to do in the past (provided they have inventory to sell), as indicated by peak sales in May of 2014 when 2,692 were sold in just a month.

Toyota Prius PHV sales in U.S. – December 2015

Toyota Prius PHV sales in U.S. – December 2015

2015 sales were just a shadow of previous years:

Toyota Prius PHV sales in U.S. – December 2015

Toyota Prius PHV sales in U.S. – December 2015

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25 responses to "Toyota Plug-In Electric Car Sales Flop In 2015"

  1. Toyota, once a leader in EV’s in that they stopped crushing their early RAV4 EV’s back in the day, and actally sold some. Then after Honda beat them out of the gate with Hybrids, they passed Honda with Prius sales. Then they became like a Deer in those Hydrogen Fuel Cell Headlights, trapped and mezmerized, unable to build a good EV on their own! Why? Because they did not appreciate the potential of battery improvements, nor the cost and delays in rolling out H2 fueling! Smart – they once were, but their lead is dying in this field!

    1. Cavaron says:

      This may not be an apropreate example, but it reminds me of a certain japanese airplane some 80 years ago. They thought it top of the art and just slightly improved the tec instead of caring for the next big improvement. Also they bet at the wrong future tec with a certain beam instead of a certain explosive… maybe I’m just watching to much historic documentaries.

    2. ffbj says:

      You left out the part where they, the deer, gets hit by a Mac truck and splattered all over the highway.

  2. Ash09 says:

    I still find it kind of amazing that they were able to sell that many plug-in prius considering it was only available in certain states.

    Imagine what the numbers would have been had they of made the PiP available nationwide. Sure, you’d still need gas, but I’m sure many people would’ve been able to do some short daily trips all in EV around town, then still get 50 mpg in hybrid mode.

    But having it sell too well would’ve made their “hydrogen is the future!” message kind of moot. Probably why they didn’t want to make it more readily available.

    1. Nick says:

      I suspect a vast majority of the sales were to gain access to HOV lanes in CA.

      1. Nick says:

        (If you want a PHEV/EREV you’d be better off with the Volt for instance)

  3. Mister G says:

    BEVs are bad for dealership business

  4. Jacked says:

    20 mile range is a loser. The Prius PHEV only serves to illustrate what a brilliant design the Volt is. Too bad about incompetent Chevy marketing and dealer malfeasance.

    1. 20 miles AER hybrid cars have the most sales. They are the winners.

  5. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    The article says:

    “…the new Prius PHV with an estimated… 20-22 miles in real world/EPA ratings…”

    Well, that’s certainly an improvement over the 1st generation Prius Plug-in which at (if I recall correctly) 11-12 miles, had the tiniest electric range of all plug-ins on the InsideEVs Monthly Plug-in Sales Scorecard!

    But between that almost laughably tiny range and Toyota’s marketing campaign to denigrate BEVs while promoting “fool cell” cars, Toyota is pretty high up on my sh*t list. They’re not likely to come off it so long as they’re refusing to make any BEV, or while they’re promoting hydrogen-fueled cars.

    1. Sting777 says:

      Exactly. They’ll bring this out as the Chevy BOLT well be selling. The Bolt will sell 10 Times More.

      That’s got to be embarrassing.

    2. Mike says:

      Agreed. A huge strategic failure by Toyota. And depending on how long it takes for the company to acknowledge it, could be very damaging to their market standing.

  6. Priusmaniac says:

    The new Akio Toyota is the perfect example of foot dragging, bad will and oilies complicity. They are as bad as Chrysler and Peugeot, doing nothing and at contrary trying to impeaching ev.

    1. Sting777 says:

      Chrysler and Fiat.

      Nissan and Peugeot are partners that sell Ev’s.

      1. Paul says:

        Nissan and Renault are partners, not Peugeot.

        Peugeot indeed has no ‘modern’ technology of their own.

        1. wavelet says:

          PSA is doing very little, but it least they’re selling BEVs (even if they’re rebadged i-MiEVs). Also, they have full access to the Bolloré drivetrain, and the Citroën Méhari BEV which they announced will start selling in France this spring will be using that.

  7. SJC says:

    A Toyota Rav4 hybrid commercial is running that says “you don’t have to plug it in”. That was the major point they emphasized with the Prius 15 years ago.

    1. Wow, that is really embarrassing. Instead, you “get” pay double to plug in a gasoline nozzle and produce more emissions for every mile you drive.

      People will figure that one out eventually.

  8. E-lectric says:

    I don’t think that headline will qualify you for a Pulitzer. Toy sold all the PiPs they made. Until CA expands the number of PHEV HOV permits, why make any more?

    1. All-Purpose Guru says:

      So the only reason to get a PHEV is for the sticker?

      I dunno, I kinda LIKE having a car that will go some distance on electric only, with a gas engine for backup. While I appreciate the ability to use HOV lanes it wasn’t anything that influenced my decision.

      It would be nice if Toyota would work towards competitive values of ‘some’.

      1. E-lectric says:

        One vehicle sold! Start up the production line.

        The PiP also has 3 cupholders within reach of the driver.

  9. Massimo covello says:

    Wow they managed to double the ev mode to 20 miles or so, big deal Toyota. Once looking like they would lead in battery technology now falling by the wayside. If you think this will be enough to get you back in the race think again. With the 2nd genChevy Volt at over 50+ miles I can’t see the plug in prius having any kind of impact at all. Not to mention that Toyota is still being stubborn on the in dash entertainment and still not going with Apple car play or Android auto why would you spend premium$$$ on no range and no real modern tech. Wake up Toyota

  10. Martin T. says:

    I drove this old PHV (Currently running out in Japan) and it is simply not a good vehicle only the drive train is super smooth the rest is sub industry standard.
    VS
    New 2016 Prius, this one based in the Mirai archicture and is both a pleasure to drive and great welcome departure for Toyota when compared to older vehicles like the PHV

    Hope Toyota uses the Mirai / 2016 Prius for a PHV – now that would be a Awesome!
    A car that drives real well.

    Look very forward to the next PHV Toyota bring out. I just wish they put a decent sized battery in also – it would be a big winner!

  11. like a Pontiac Aztek, this ranks up there for ugliest car.

  12. Nix says:

    The death of the Prius PHEV actually shows the EV market has matured, and people are willing to take larger leaps into new technologies.

    One of the original appeals of the Prius PHEV was that it wasn’t a big change from the regular Prius. It just allowed you to plug in to get more electricity to extend an all-electric mode of operation that Prius owners were already familiar with.

    Furthermore, the aftermarket had already proven it was possible, with battery upgrades being offered by various companies.

    So when the Prius PHEV came out, it wasn’t much of a leap into new technology at all. It was actually a pretty conservative level of risk.

    That was back when anti-EV FUD had lots of people wondering if EV’s would even work at all, or be reliable.

    Now with much of that FUD being crushed, there is less of a market for a PHEV like the Prius that is such a small incremental change.