Prius Prime: The New Toyota Plug-In Hybrid
Takeshi Uchiyamada, chairman of Toyota, and also known as the "father of the Prius," believes that current plug-in hybrids (specifically the Prius Prime) will find much more success than that the original Prius, and the first-generation Prius plug-in.
Inside the Prius Prime
Toyota has been slow to accept the electric car revolution, and especially when it comes to those with plugs. The company is responsible for about forty traditional (no plug) hybrid models over the course of the last twenty years. It also invested heavily in an unsuccessful push for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
During the recent plug-in Prius (America's Prius Prime) launch in Japan, Uchiyamada spoke with reporters. He expects to sell one million plug-ins at some point inside the next ten years. He shared:
"Environmental awareness has become a bigger issue today than it was 20 years ago, and demand for environmentally conscious products has increased."
At the Prius PHV launch in Japan, Toyota said that it has set goals to sell about 60,000 per year globally. The company specified that over half of these vehicles would go to the Japanese market. Toyota set nearly the same goal for the first-generation Prius plug-in in 2012, but didn't find the expected success, selling only about 75,000 to date.
The Prime gets a major range upgrade, and the company is promoting the vehicle more heavily (now that it has set aside focus on the fuel-cell market, due to mounting expense and lack of charging infrastructure).
Unfortunately, Uchiyamada didn't reveal any plans for other plug-in versions, and wouldn't comment on the topic. However, in order to keep up with the competition, Toyota has formed a special division to facilitate the company's long-range electric vehicle pursuits.