Toyota Hybrid Sales Stalled, While Plug-In Prius Drops

AUG 29 2015 BY MARK KANE 36

Twelve of the Toyota and Lexus hybrids available in the U.S.

Twelve of the Toyota and Lexus hybrids available in the U.S.

Since Prius was introduced and sold in volume, Toyota has always been associated with hybrids.

In the US alone, Toyota and Lexus now offer 12 hybrid models.

Recently, the Japanese company announced sales of 8,000,000 hybrids worldwide, but something jammed up in Toyota machine.

Toyota was selling around 1,250,000 hybrids annually on average in 2012-2014 with peak in 2013 at 1,279,225. After 7 months of this year sales of 709,633 units again are on track for the same average – no growth.

Maybe this is just strengthening the position after the jump from 2011 to 2012 (let’s try to be optimistic), but we’d expect some kind of growth.

Toyota, in some ways ignored electric cars, treating them just as a necessary evil, while several years ago many would thought that Toyota would be the first large manufacturer to show true interest in plug-ins.

“It can be hard to get a sense of what the number 8 million might mean for the environment and for hybrid owners. For a bit of context, Toyota calculates that as of July 31, its hybrid vehicles have resulted in approximately 58 million fewer tons2 of CO2 emissions3 than would have been emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance. Toyota also estimates that its hybrid vehicles have saved approximately 22 million kiloliters of gasoline compared to the amount used by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar sizes.

The message is clear: having found homes in driveways around the world, hybrids have staying power. Since the launch of the Prius in 1997, Toyota has been gradually adding hybrid models throughout its range, from the compact Yaris Hybrid to the recently announced RAV4 Hybrid. As of this month, Toyota sells 30 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in more than 90 markets.

Over just the past year, Toyota has made several new hybrid models available, including the Esquire Hybrid (Japan only), the Lexus RC300h, and the recently launched Sienta Hybrid. Other new hybrid models are just around the corner, such as the Corolla Hybrid and Levin Hybrid (China only) and RAV4 Hybrid. This ongoing roll-out will only continue, with new hybrid models being added to Toyota’s range and sold in more markets than ever before.

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Hybrid technologies, which encompass all of the component technologies necessary for the development of environment-friendly cars and which facilitate the use of different fuel combinations, are positioned by Toyota as core environmental technologies for the twenty-first century. Using these technologies, Toyota is also working on improving non-hybrid cars. Across the board, Toyota aims to enhance performance, reduce costs, and expand its product lineup―including that of non-hybrid vehicles.”

Toyota is now turning to hydrogen fuel cell cars. Mirai is in the early stage of market introduction, while Prius PHV, despite a strong start, is now disappearing as we await the new generation.

If nothing changes, sales of plug-in Prius will drop this year by half. With just 5,051 sales so far this year, Toyota is far from 2014’s volume of 19,879.

Through the end of July, Toyota sold 73,590 Prius Plug-In (nearly 1% of all hybrids sold), which still makes it one of the most popular plug-ins around the world.

There will be a next generation of plug-in Prius, with an estimated all-electric range of up to ~30 miles, but there is a huge production gap of about 18 months between the first and second gen.

The current Prius PHV ended production in June, and the new model is not expected until early 2017.

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid sales - July 2015

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid sales – July 2015

Categories: Toyota


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36 Comments on "Toyota Hybrid Sales Stalled, While Plug-In Prius Drops"

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The Prius gets credit for removing more carbon than all the plug ins put together. Even Tesla can’t match it.

Also,On a dollar per pound of CO2 removed you can’t beat that car.


If we count first N years then Tesla is ahead!

If we count C02 saved for the first X miles driven Tesla is ahead.

If we make predictions into future Toyota simply CAN NOT win.

If we count price tag of some luxury Toyota hybrids vs Tesla….

On and on.

Extra points for sticking to hybridization when it was uphill battle.

Extra negatives for offering very very limited NO-CO2-EVER option.

The Prius don’t even beat your average diesel.
They should have some credit but that credit is fading away quickly with their strong resistance toward improving it.

Nope. Diesel mpg dies in the city. Hybrids everywhere beat diesel, especially in money saved as diesel is more than premium in most states.

Diesel also spews micro-particles that give you cancer.

Gasoline vehicles also produce lots of microparticles. Really, they should have particulate filters as well.

I agree, especially gasoline ICE vehicles with direct injection. The PM emissions from gas cars with direct injection are very high, exceeding those of a diesel car with a particulate filter by a significant amount.

I’m talking about actual driving made by actual people. The Prius doesn’t even get close.
It’s one of the big reasons why it doesn’t sell in Europe where there are plenty of diesel options.

City mpg is often less important anyway since most miles are not done there.

You’re confounding mpg’s and CO2 emissions.

Diesel is a heavier fuel and emits 12% more CO2 per litre. If you correct for that, the Prius handily beats any regular diesel in its class.

Its the particulate pollution of Diesels in Paris and London that is making the kids sick. If it makes them sick in those cities it will also do so elsewhere.

That’s one of the few things America has done right, namely *NOT* embracing Diesels as the cure all/end all.

2017 is shaping up to be a good year for plug-ins. Several new cars available that year include…

* GM’s Bolt 200 mile EV, which arrives on the market in late 2016

* GM’s 2nd Gen Volt EREV with 50 miles of EV range, is just starting to arrive on the market now

* Toyota’s 2nd Gen Prius PHEV with up to 30 miles of range, arrives on the market in early 2017

* Nissan’s 2nd Gen Leaf EV with a significant range increase, is (if I’m not mistaken) expected to debut as a 2017 model

* Tesla will have both the Model S & Model X EVs on the market (Model 3 EV is supposedly arriving in late 2017)

Can we break the 200K plug-in sales barrier in 2017?

Yes, 2017 should see a sharp upturn in PEV sales.

Unfortunately, the next year and a half is gonna be pretty disappointing for us EVangelists. We’re gonna have to settle for small victories here and there.

Ah, nuts! Forgot one vehicle, and it’s a very important vehicle which has made itself very forgettable… (*** sarcasm ***)

* Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV with about 25 or so miles of range finally arrives in the North American market in May 2016. Affordable electrified AWD for the masses.

Pardon my sarcasm, and I’m being very sarcastic, but it will be interesting to see which vehicle really makes it to the market first: Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV or Tesla’s Model 3.

Dave, are you talking about the US market only and not the worldwide market.

miggy – Yes, I’m talking about the US market only. Don’t know what’s happening with Renault and the Chineese car manufacturers, for example.

You forgot the Audi Q7 e-tron (phev). Hoping it has a diesel engine for towing purposes….and 800 mile range (combining diesel and battery).

Prius plugin with 30 miles of range? Citation needed.

Mike777 – Citation needed for the 30 mile Prius PHEV? Go to and click on the article titled “Toyota Hybrid Sales Stalled, While Plug-In Prius Drops”. The aticle was posted on August 29, 2015.

The Prius is the Blackberry of mild hybrid EVs. Sure, it was revolutionary in its day. But Toyota has rested on its laurels rather than developing and selling a more robust EV, despite Tesla introducing the Roadster and the Model S. Blackberry rested on its laurels when Apple introduced the iPhone, which is why Blackberry had to significantly downsize, and is no longer leading the smartphone revolution.

The EV revolution is taking longer than the smartphone revolution, but if Toyota doesn’t stop trying to ignore it, it’s gonna shrivel up or die just like Blackberry did.

As for all the other, even milder hybrid EVs: Frankly, good riddance to them. They were basically a form of greenwashing; just making drivers feel like they were doing something for the environment, while only improving MPG by a handful of miles. The new rules in the USA requiring much more stringent fuel efficiency are forcing auto makers to produce more efficient (or rather, less inefficient) gasmobiles which will save far more on gasoline consumption than those those cars, which were a lot closer to the gasmobile end of the spectrum than the EV end, ever did.


Blackberry is a good example. Prius proved that the technology works and thanks to Toyota there are now millions of hybrid vehicles on the road. Also they created an ecosystem with suppliers making components that support the growing trend of automobile electrification.

I hope Prius stops following Blackberry’s example now and do not become obsolete.

Yep. The Volt destroys the Prius plugin and the Hydrogen Joke.

Any articles discussing worldwide sales of a Japanese branded automobile (which includes the LEAF) really must at least mention how its home market sales pad the numbers – that deleting those numbers brings about a truer comparison with the sales numbers brands from USA and Europe.

Then to be fair we should also take away domestic numbers for US/German/French etc. EVs too.

Volt – 0 sales (well, some in Canada but that’s just an extension of the US)

Ford Fusion Energy – 0 sales

C-Max energy – 300 for the year

Chevy Spark EV – 0 sales

Cadillac ELR – 0 sales

And so on…

Not to mention that the worlds most selling EV company right now, BYD, would have almost 0 sales in total (except some E6 taxis).

In west LA Toyota comes out with a hydrogen car & Shell takes apart it’s Hydrogen station. Shell does not support hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Takeshi Uchiyamada is now Chairman of the Board at Toyota. He was “the man” who was in charge of development of the very first Prius.

That could/should explain why Toyota is so reluctant to get on board with EVs and wants to stick with hybrids to the bitter hydrogen end.

I have been thinking a lot about Toyota and why they don’t just pull the trigger and switch all their hybrids to phev’s? Why not just do it? I have even seen slides where Toyota show their future vision with ev’s at low range, “hybrids” at mid range and fcev’s at long range. There is no reason why the “hybrids” can’t be phev’s. Then it struck me, Panasonic make the batteries for Toyota and they are currently maxed out selling to tesla until the giga factory opens it’s doors at which point there will be a lot more capacity in japan. Makes me think they are simply sand bagging much like VW where a few years back. Just a thought, I have no information that might suggest I am right but it will be interesting to see where we are in 2020

Interesting. Shows Japan is actually Investment Cowards, along with most of US companies listed on Wall Street.

Put a little money at risk for Future Investment and Wall Street went Nuts, Tesla and Gigafactory.

Shows you how Timid the business community is.
And they say they’re the innovators.

Toyota Build Your Own GigaFactory.

They did invest in tesla when everyone else thought they would fold and they had the rav4 contract with tesla as well. I’ve never really bought into the idea that merc or Toyota are anti-tesla, it might end up that way but I am sure that there is / was a plan attached to the support they gave tesla in the early days.

Toyota owns 99% of what was a joint venture company that produces the NiMH batteries. It’s old, amortized technology, basically unchanged since the release of the 2nd Gen Prius in 2004.
Toyota will move when forced to move by the market.

I agree, but I still think they have a plan for when the market starts move. Maybe that involves Panasonic maybe it doesn’t, time will tell

Without Hybrid Toyota is a normal car maker…and the Hybrid will come to an end next 2-3 years. PHEV numbers explode, every new PHEV model will eat Toyotas Hybrid sells! And worst for Toyota, they don’t react with PEHV in all models!

That’s one thing I just don’t understand from a company that I admire the Toyota production system for. How can brilliant manufacture be so non brilliant when it comes to EV’s, Plug in EV’s with modern / cutting edge batteries? Maybe there is something rotten in their corporate culture in regards to R&D and not wanting to be leaders in a meaningful way. Lucky they have a very loyal customer base, because -if- their customers look over the fence – Mazda has engine technology like Sykactive and are working Diesotto (like mercedes) will increase the efficiency and performance to mind numbing numbers ~60%. Even the current Toyoda had to source the drivers car (Toyota 86) from Subaru as the constraints at Toyota would not allow it to happen. Imagine if Toyota actually tried it properly with EV’s and EREVS! That would be simply amazing…. & for now we have the inefficient hand built hydrogen car with no refueling stations near you. The Mirai is just going to look so good in a car museum than you’d expect. Meanwhile back in the real world will Toyota listen and do what is right (Not what is right for only maximising Toyotas profits)… Read more »

And Subaru’s “hybrid” is probably the Worst Hybrid on the Market, and it comes from Toyota!


I hope the drop is due to people buying other plug-ins instead. But sadly, it is probably due to people buying gas guzzlers because gas is cheap.

I’m thinking it’s a combination of both (lost sales to EVs AND ICE vehicles). The Prius is the #1 traded in vehicle in for EVs according to conquest info I’ve seen (Volt, Tesla, etc..).

Selling 8m hybrids is a major milestone. Odd to try to put a negative spin on that. “The message is clear: having found homes in driveways around the world, hybrids have staying power. Since the launch of the Prius in 1997, Toyota has been gradually adding hybrid models throughout its range. Toyota sells 30 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in more than 90 markets. Over just the past year, Toyota has made several new hybrid models available. Other new hybrid models are just around the corner, such as the Corolla Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid. This ongoing roll-out will only continue, with new hybrid models being added to Toyota’s range and sold in more markets than ever before”. My observations on that are as follows: I have never owned a Toyota due to drab interiors and dull driving experience (sports cars excepted), but it is clear to me that Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive has been a great success. HSD’s quiet economy combined with Toyota’s reliability and longevity is a practical choice for non-enthusiasts who want a transport appliance. Toyota continues to sell more than a million hybrids a year even while the mainstay Prius is approaching a… Read more »

I’ve never heard it mentioned, but perhaps Toyota’s reluctance toward plug-in electrics is the scarcity of electricity in Japan.

Their Mirai might make sense in electricity starved areas, but EV’s make sense for America.

Our central electric generating stations in general will be more efficient and more long-lived it EV’s were being charged the entire nightime, as it would reduce thermal shock, (also Joule-Thomson issues with overheating steam turbines at low-loading), and in general reduce the need for additional petroleum.

SO, since the US is still the second or third largest car market, and at least in my area, WNY, Prius’s are very, very popular, its a shame Toyota doesn’t come out with their improved PIP sooner. At least they still advertise the old model on their Website, and dealerships still have old PIP’s for sale.

Maybe if people go to Toyota Dealerships asking the above questions, Toyota will decide to move up their timetable. I’m not a marketing guy, but in my area PIP’s are a big hit. An improved PIP even more so. The Mirai in my area would be a stupendous DUD.