Toyota Considers Ditching Conventional Hybrid Prius In Favor Of PHEV-Only Approach


Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime

Late last month, Toyota’s chief engineer for the Prius explained why he thinks the plug-in version will be a roaring success. Now, the assistant chief engineer for the Prius is chiming in with something similar.

As AutoBlog reports, Toyota will consider ditching the conventional hybrid Prius starting with the next generation of the car. The thought is that from here on out, the plug-in Priuses may be the way forward.

Shoichi Kaneko, assistant chief engineer for the Prius Prime, stated:

“Ultimately, PHEV may be the way to go.”

The Prius has always pushed the fuel economy envelope. To do so in the future, it looks like PHEV is the way to go, according to Kaneko.

Giving the unexpectedly low pricing of the new Prius Prime in the US, which is more than $1,000 lower than the base Prius Hybrid when including the $4,500 federal credit it is eligible for (effectively $23,450 – details on Prius Prime and pricing here), Toyota has priced the Prime not only aggressively enough to gain sales, but to potentially displace the standard Prius on the the US market.

AutoBlog adds:

“Kaneko said that Toyota poured a lot of resources into making the Prime the best Prius that it could be. 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. If the Prime struggles, Kaneko said, then Toyota might have to reconsider its whole PHEV strategy.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t struggle then.

Source: AutoBlog

Categories: Toyota

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58 Comments on "Toyota Considers Ditching Conventional Hybrid Prius In Favor Of PHEV-Only Approach"

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The car certainly hasn’t been around that long for the final analysis to be made, but it is almost certain that this is a far better value than the original P-I-P. Now if ALL Priuses were made PHEV, they’d certainly be the biggest electric car company in the world, and even electric utility’s stocks would go way up. They’d even be bigger than BYD. The one thing helping the economy right now is dirt cheap energy costs in the states. Natural gas cost is trending down toward zero. Straus’s Lie back in the 1950’s that Nuclear Energy would be “Too cheap to meter” was always known as a lie even back then – but was made to increase public acceptance. The kicker is here, Natural Gas is almost right now in the states “too cheap to meter” – my relatively high cost at my home was 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour last month (by heat content), but that includes retail delivery charges. My ‘energy commodity cost’ was 0.8 cents per kwh, and that is at retail rates. Since many replacement power plants for the Coal plants prematurely shut down are now natural gas plants, car like the Prius Prime are going… Read more »

Around here, we pay about 8X for nat gas compared to commodity pricing, might go up more even as commodity price goes down further.

Also true with electricity; it never goes down but up at retail, even when nat gas and oil commodity prices go _way_ down.

Not sure about there, but our upside-down (or screw the consumers) is due to utilities being quasi-government monopolies with lots of fat: you don’t like it? Tough!

Hey, it’s just business.

Don’t denigrate the makers. πŸ˜€

That’s the one thing I never understood about Californians. They accept confiscatory rates from their utilities, with plenty of collusion with their regulators.

Not sure where SParkev is, but SCE I can understand since its a wealthy area in general and they do have to pay mothballing costs for the 2 GIG San-Onofre Nuclear boondoggle.

But PG&E is in a huge portion of the state, and the juice is expensive everywhere, and as mentioned, sanctioned by the State. You would think people would complain.

PG&E would no doubt say they have to pay high rates for electricity, because of the NIMBY and Banana principles.

Not in my Back Yard.
Build absolutlely nothing anywhere near anyone.

It is way worse in Germany, where I live. The energy companies are basically monopolies that thought they can sell coal energy forever.

Now that we are about to end coal and nuclear energy production, those companies are suing the government that incentivized them for years, as well as breaking their companies into renewable+grid+customers and coal+nuclear.

You can just guess what happens in a few years… They will have to clean up their old nuclear sites with nonexistent money from their coal plants…

In my opinion the electricity grid (not production), roads and water should be responsibility of the government. Any competition in those fields will lead to monopolies.

R.S said:

“They will have to clean up their old nuclear sites with nonexistent money from their coal plants…”

Well if that’s too hard for German engineers, then they should hire the French to do it for them. The French solved the problem of nuclear waste decades ago.

REally? They throw them in the sun? because anywhere else radio-activity will kill for thousands of years.

There is nothing else in that PBS paper than the obvious last phrase:

“Nuclear waste is an enormously difficult political problem which to date no country has solved. It is, in a sense, the Achilles heel of the nuclear industry. Could this issue strike down France’s uniquely successful nuclear program? France’s politicians and technocrats are in no doubt. If France is unable to solve this issue, says Mandil, then “I do not see how we can continue our nuclear program.”

It still is on top of being a money pit and an unsolvable boondoggle.

France risk that high price solution to avoid being kept hostage of volatile energy source.
But that was way before solar and wind generation improvement.

Tsk. A lack of critical reading there, Djoni.

Quoting from the article:

French technocrats had never thought that the waste issue would be much of a problem. From the beginning the French had been recycling their nuclear waste, reclaiming the plutonium and unused uranium and fabricating new fuel elements. This not only gave energy, it reduced the volume and longevity of French radioactive waste. The volume of the ultimate high-level waste was indeed very small: the contribution of a family of four using electricity for 20 years is a glass cylinder the size of a cigarette lighter.

As the article goes on to say, the real problem is one of public perception, not technology.

Great! It would be a small step to a pure BEV then!

A few years after Prius came out, a group in California added batteries to made it a PHEV. Toyota had a fit, they said that was not right that those modifications should stop.

And then when Toyota finally came out with the first generation Plug-in Prius, it had only 11-12 miles of all-electric range, which was no better than the third-party modification of the basic Prius; a modification which by then was offered in kit form from more than one vendor!

Toyota is the BlackBerry of EV tech. Toyota’s Prius was once the most advanced, most popular EV in the world. (HEVs are EVs, despite what some purists claim.) But instead of advancing the tech, they rested on their laurels… just like BlackBerry did, until the iPhone came along and stole their market.

I wish I could say “Go Toyota!” But, you know, they really aren’t going at all. πŸ™

If I had a dollar for every armchair auto exec who made a comparison between cars and the demise of blackberry mobile devices, I’d be a very rich man.

In other news, Toyota remains one of the most profitable, successful auto companies in the world that actually turns a profit, unlike Tesla.

No doubt executives at Eastman Kodak, BlackBerry, and Borders Books kept telling their employees much the same, shortly before those companies went bankrupt and/or sharply downsized during their respective disruptive tech revolutions.

Claiming that Toyota won’t be affected by the current disruptive tech revolution, the EV revolution, is a head-in-the-sand attitude. It may take a few more years to affect Toyota significantly, because the EV revolution is happening so slowly that some call it an evolution rather than a revolution. But slow or not, it’s just as inevitable.

Xerox got rid of their paper operations convinced the future was paperless.

It’s a 25 mile AER PHEV for $28k.

If Prime were a $4k package on the base Prius, you’d expect a good take rate. But it’s a $4k package that gets you a $4.5k tax credit and extra rebates and incentives in some states.

“poured a lot of resources into making the Prime the best Prius that it could be”

Come on, that’s the best? 15 sec 0-60 MPH in EV mode?

I can’t argue with the engineer’s quote saying it is the best. 40% thermal efficiency (even before turning on the cabin heater) is absolutely fantastic. 52 MPG after the battery is dead.

So this car is the best in so many ways – larger than a volt (although some say cheaper materials) – and as good driving a few miles around town.

For long trips, when the ICE is running, the thing uses as little gasoline as practically possible for a mobile ICE. (Its only recently that some General Electric central station ICE’s beat 50% efficiency – making them reasonable solutions for new central stations – especially if the hot water can be utilized as a cogeneration product).

But admittedly, it does seem a bit schitzo of Toyota. TO go from something, then nothing, and now going whole-hog into ev’s is a bit confusing.

Perhaps Japan’s electricity shortage entered into their thinking, but that’s just my conjecture.

Prime is rated at 54 mpg combined cycle, bested only by the Prius Eco’s 56 mpg combined.

133 mpg-e on battery power is the best announced so far.

Incredible for such a large car to seize top honors on both of those measures.

The PiP is a huge accomplishment in sustainable transportation. Yes, acceleration is a bit slow. That was not one of the goals the engineers were given.

Toyota still can’t decide to go all in on plug-in cars?

Toyota doesnt realy want to sell plug ins they want you to buy their legacy ICE tech and George Bushs promise of the hydrogen future from back in 2000 whe he changed laws to help CARB kill EVs…

Green Hydrogen Future We Are Waiting????
But you will never make it in my life….

Wasn”t Bush also the one who signed the EV tax credit into law? Just sayin.

I’m glad Toyota is finally cluing in. With the cost of batteries trending towards $100/kWh, there is no excuse for automakers to be making any non-plug-in hybrids any more.

Weight, size, and handling are just three reasons why it isn’t happening. Now, if your goal is electrification above all else, then yes, of course I agree with you. PHEV’s with smallish batteries is the pareto principal applied to car electrification.

I’m totally for a BEV-only future, but I think for the large majority of car drivers and for the environment it would be a wonderful idea if simply every Prius would have a plug.

That way people who are not at all into EVs yet, can get used to having a plug, having more miles in silent mode, more clean miles while driving in the city, all while having less “fuel” costs.

Research in Norway showed: those who start driving electric never go back…

What the heck is the wish bone rear Suspension and why is i important for a PHEV?

This should answer your question: Wishbone.

For the linkage challenged, bottom line:
“If you looking for the ultimate suspension design with the greatest performance, double wishbone suspension is the only choice.”

Older Prius’s sold fine before without a DWB…

It was a bad pun on the word “riding,” which can also be used when referring to investing or gambling. (ie: I have a lot of money riding on my bet that the the Yankees will win the game). Instead of saying “there’s a lot riding on “it” (their R&D investment in Prime), they said “there’s a lot riding on [the Prime’s] new double wishbone suspension” since a car rides on its suspension.

I’ve felt that this is where regulations should have been applied to the automotive sector years ago to require that every vehicle produced must be a PHEV or BEV.

Wow.. I wrote an entire article on this a few years ago saying that Toyota should ditch the regular hybrids and only do PHEVs. One of the arguments I made was that with mass production the price would only be maybe $1,000 to $2,000 more than a conventional hybrid and with government incentives, it would actually wind up being cheaper. I realize those incentives would run out fairly quickly, but even then…. A PHEV is such a better vehicle than a regular hybrid since it is so much more flexible.

I had also talked about the impact it would make on the EV and PHEV market in general as well as the charging station infrastructure. It’s too bad they took the Chademo port off the USA version. I think that would help grow the DC fast charger rollout if there were more vehicles on the road that could use it.

It’s very unfortunate that Toyota’s executives and bean-counters are not as forward-looking as you.

Well making this the ONLY choice will certainly flood the Cali HOV lanes with green stickered Primes…

Of course, hybrid has always been a transitional technology and now the transition to electric has come so far that the gas engine is only interesting for backup or just-in-case situations. The real mystery is why there still are gas-only cars on the market.

Next gen is probably ~5 years out but this sort of thinking is quite a shift from Toyota’s hitherto “plug-ins don’t work, hydrogen is the future” doctrine.

I expect it won’t be long now until Toyota Throws Mirai and its hydrogen pipe dreams on the trash heap of history.

This would be consistent with Toyota engineer’s other recent comments about them wanting the Prime to be a high volume car along the lines of the Gen 2 Prius … as the ‘skip’ part of a hop, skip and jump to truly high volume like the Gen 3 Prius.

Making all Priuses plug-ins for the next generation would neatly accomplish the ‘jump’ part.

Well that is a very positive information because it means Toyota start to come to the realization that increasing the electric input is the way to go. More ev range and ability to charge the electricity needed for that range from a grid supply turned more and more green.
Their next move should be to finally replace the conventional engine by their direct free piston generator and another doubling of the ev range. It is also time now that they present their first full BEV and start contacting Tesla to work together again this time on supercharger access.

No plug, no sale.

Toyota is only now finally “considering” this? πŸ™„ They should have actually done this, at least five years ago. 😑

And, Toyota, you need to stop trying to deny reality by claiming that BEVs are not the wave of the future.

It’s amazing how much they have flip flopped in the past few years.

Ok, let’s make EVs.

No, plugs are bad. No EVs. Cancel them all, hydrogen only is the future.

Plugs are OK, I guess. But let’s not go crazy here, only give them slightly better electric capability than last time.

I wouldn’t count Toyota out yet. The Prime could well contend for best-selling plug-in for 2017.

They continue to develop the electric technology to easily produce an awesome BEV when they decide that batteries are cheap enough.

The Prime is a pretty awesome effort on the efficiency front both as a plug-in and a gas-mobile. I just hope they can do a mid-generation upgrade that beefs up the suspension to allow 5 seats and bumps up the battery capacity a kilowatt or two.

25 miles range is a bit weak, no doubt, but it’s enough to be very useful.

I prefer the Volt (though I worry a bit about reliability as compared to a Prius) but the Volt is a fair bit more expensive.

Might as well ditch the hybrid as no one should buy one anyway.
Toyota needs 50 mile all electric range in the Prius, otherwise but a Volt

To me, battery-only cars require too many compromises to be an only car. If you only commute and never drive anywhere else, then they may work for you. But I don’t want to plan my trips on where I can (maybe) find charging.

PHEVs are the best of both worlds, even limited range PHEVs. I drive the e-tron, and even it’s 17 mile range (more like 20-22 miles in real life) is enough for my daily commute, meaning I’m only filling up every 4-6 weeks and average 60-80 mpg on those tanks. If you have a longer commute, cars like the Volt are perfect.

Based on my experiences with the Gen1 (and even Gen2) Volt, I expect that the fact that the Prime is a 4-seater will cause some delay in full adoption.

I do believe that in the next generation of Prius, Toyota should be able to squeeze the battery size low enough to make it a true 5-seater like the HEV Prius. At that point, the HEV Prius would have no reason to exist.


I hope this is true and I hope they move faster than people expect. I have wondered for a long time if Toyota would suck up all the Panasonic batteries once Tesla started production for its vehicles in the USA. 100,000 battery packs for tesla could easily translate to 1 million battery packs for Toyota PHEVs. Especially since Panasonic will probably transition all its MH battery plants to lithium for Toyota.

As for this being a massive change in direction, I don’t think so. Toyota have never starkly differentiated between HEV and PHEV. They have also promoted the idea that bevs are for small city cars, “hybrids” are for the middle ground and fuel cells are for larger, long range vehicles. Toyota might be about as sexy as grey baggy underpants but, if this is true, it would certainly appear they are further a head of the pack than most would give them credit for.

In live in an apartment, probably like many other consumers do. Third floor…
Where would I plug in this type of technology vehicle?

Some apartment-dwellers will be out of luck. Others may have access to an outlet in a parking deck or parking lot.

Plug-in vehicles will remain impractical for a substantial part of the population for some time to come because of this issue. In the future, as batteries, range and charging technology and infrastructure improve, then apartment dwellers will be able to use a plug-in vehicle like they do a gas vehicle now, just stopping by the fast-charger near the mall (or wherever) for a half-hour or hour every week or two.

I keep my horse in the corral out back of my apartment house. Even if I got one of them newfangled motorcars, where would I park it?

They say that New York City went from a city with mostly horse and horse-drawn traffic, to mostly motorcars and trucks, in the space of only 10 years. Is it reasonable to think that the transition from mostly gasmobiles to mostly PEVs (Plug-in EVs) will take longer?

When more apartment dwellers demand a place to plug in their PEV, then more apartment owners will install EV charge points in their parking lots.

You would park the car exactly where you “park” your horse: in a barn or a carriage house. In fact, that’s exactly what people did in the transition from horses to cars.

You should pick a better analogy.

Think everyone needs to remember what the Prius really is – still absolutely the only hybrid slash EV that sells on the mass market. It’s an affordable do-everything family car that goes toe to toe with anything in the vast market of mostly ICE vehicles, and purely on value wins. The Volt and Leaf are still niche vehicles. The Bolt looks promising but the price is no bargain considering it’s pretty much a juiced econo-hatch. None of these has the mass appeal of the Prius. Volt recently crossed the 100,000 total world sales mark. Prius has over 1.6 million sold. The new plug-in at an effective $23,000 is pretty astonishing value and in the end that is usually the number one consideration for most people buying a car. The Prius is one of the most reliable cars ever made. A lot of people would be able to drive that car for weeks at a time on just battery power. Then take a 2000 mile road trip without a second thought. Is the Volt with it’s extra range cushion worth and extra 10 or 15 grand? Tough to justify. People talk about how cheap gas is. The Prius actually takes advantage… Read more »

Sometimes I wonder if y’all really know how terribly slow the Prius is. It’s so slow, it’s dangerous for those of us that have real vehicles. I own Merc AMC wagons, Jeeps and trucks and my Prius is the only thing I must sell soon. I’m going to either a hybrid volt of Tesla model s. My Prius is also modified and moves on the top end, dynoed out at 168 bhp, like I said it’s really too slow for a 4k lb vehicle. BTW don’t ask how I modified the pri, it’s far too complicated unless you into machine code.

Kaneko San

Do we expect every prospective Prius customer to pay around $3,500 extra (excluding rebate) to get Prius Prime.

What about those who live in Apartment/Condo with no charging facility.

When the Prius Hybrid is dropped, will be Prius Prime be renamed to Prius.

Will this be applied to other dedicated hybrids like Prius V, Prius C, Lexus CT-200H, etc.

But Toyota will still continue to sell gasmobiles like Corolla, Camry, RAV-4, Sequoia, etc which has which has 30 % lesser mileage than typical Hybrid.

Lot of questions remain unanswered.

4 million Prius owners and 5 million + if we include Prius V & Prius C are proud of their cars. Please continue to sell Prius Hybrid in addition to the plugin version.

Well that would be nice, BUT what happens when they hit their last $200K government incentive? I’d think they would want to save that for an all electric, otherwise the prius price will shoot way up when it runs out. Plus it’s not an instant credit and financing $7,500 in your car payment could then hurt people who can’t afford to go much higher with their payment. Just a thought.

Toyota was poised to rule the EV market, but they instead have resisted the move to full EV at every opportunity. And, they hide behind not wanting to tarnish their golden Prius egg. But, now its getting to be tiredly obvious that they struggle to remain behind, continuing to retard their inevitable progression towards full EV. Its kinda sad.

Ideally Toyota can launch a base version of Prius Hybrid at around 21K price tag and this will give a big boost to the sales.

That’s what Tesla, Nissan, VW did to increase the sales of their electric cars.

External size of Prius is just the same as Corolla which costs 18K and for an extra 3K, they can make the Hybrid system for Prius and sell it at 21K.