Toyota Prius Chief Engineer Hopes To Charge Up Plug-In Version Sales

SEP 27 2016 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 60

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota’s chief engineer for the all-new Prius has lofty goals for the plug-in version of the car.

Koji Toyoshima, Prius chief engineer, says that his sights are set on the automaker selling 1 million units of the plug-in version (Prius Prime) over the vehicle’s lifecycle. That’s a lofty goal for sure, which was revealed in an interview with Reuters.

Reuters adds some sales background, which gives us some context as to why Toyotshima thinks Toyota can hit that target:

“Each generation of the conventional Prius achieved strong sales growth: roughly 100,000 units for first generation launched in 1997, followed by 1 million for the next generation from 2003 and 2.5 million for the following generation from 2009.”

“Toyoshima referred to the sales rises as its “hop,” “step” and “jump” phases.”

“We need to see that kind of volume with the plug-in during the upcoming ‘step’ phase, as we did with the second-generation conventional Prius, to achieve the momentum to get to the ‘jump’ phase,” he said.”

To hit 1 million plug-in Prius sales in just one generation of the car, sales would need to be around 200,000 units per year. Perhaps a bit lower if the product cycle extends out beyond 5 years. That figure is probably not achievable, especially when one considers that Toyota sold only 75,000 units worldwide of the fit-gen plug-in Prius over its lifecycle, but still having that lofty goal will at least push Toyota to put in the marketing effort to get sales as high as possible…we hope.

 

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Toyota

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60 Comments on "Toyota Prius Chief Engineer Hopes To Charge Up Plug-In Version Sales"

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Mark C

It’s ok to hope, but every year the competition gets stronger. As a plugin, the Prius is not the leader in the game. They probably need to double their all-electric-range, or more if they are to make their hope a reality.

Leadership is the ability to get ordinary consumers to change.

We have already seen that offering lots more EV won’t accomplish that. Look no further than gen-2 Volt for a recent example.

The key is pricing low enough to entice traditional car buyers, yet still being profitable (without tax-credit subsidies).

RexxSee

“We have already seen that offering lots more EV” Are you aware of some models we don’t know about? Or are you drinking the lies of the ICE car manufacturers telling us there is no demand?

Nanda

Toyota better makes a full electric vehicle.

Mister G

Yes what is taking them so long?

ffbj

Partially I would say it’s a case of too many types of cars in development and that has blunted their concentration of effort, in any one particular area.

Mister G

Honestly, Toyota is a gas guzzler manufacturer period.

zzzzzzzzzz

They make it and its lease is 2-3 times less than Tesla’s. The link is below the article. It is just that its electric drive is powered not by Li Ion battery.

jelloslug

I’m sure it will sell well enough but Toyota is slipping faster and faster behind.

ffbj

Well, further and further behind, is the usual expression but your version is just as accurate.

Kdawg

Does that mean they are not going to upgrade the PP for 20 years?

David Murray

Quite the contrary.. they’ll need to upgrade at least the battery to make it more competitive in a year or two.

ClarksonCote

Their “upgrade” for late 2016 is still only half the range of the gen 1 Volt, and now even less with the Gen 2 Volt rated at 53 miles.

Not only that, the Volt can do those first 53 miles gas free, where the Prius still needs gas for max acceleration or top speed. The Prius also has worse performance.

So I would argue that, to stay relevant and not just rely on their current brand image, they need to upgrade a year ago beyond what they’re about to release.

Will be interesting to see how many sales they pull just from their brand image. I’m sure there’ll be a fair amount.

zzzzzzzzzz

Side effect of smaller and lighter battery is that it has 120 mpge electric and probably over 50 mpg on gas. Every car has its own best usage case.

ClarksonCote

It is true that it can have higher MPGe, but the price is that the majority of owners will burn far more gasoline than a stronger PHEV like the Volt.

The only exception is if someone is literally traveling more than 200 miles every single day. And if that’s the case, I feel bad for them. 😉

But I digress. For me personally, I’d rather burn less gasoline and have better performance with a Volt, than burn more gasoline, lower performance, and higher “efficiency” numbers in a Prius. For me (and I would think most Americans) minimizing gasoline use while keeping high performance is preferred over maximizing efficiency with lower performance yet still using more gasoline.

zzzzzzzzzz

Less idealistic persons may just check TCO. As electricity is not free, depending on particular electric rate, you may not save much going from 50+ mpg to electric. Breakeven point for $2.2/gal gas would $2.2/gal/(52 [prius mpg]/106[volt mpge]*33kWh/mpge) = $0.13/kWh. Just the average US residential rate, your own may vary. 0-60 time – who cares really for commuter car.

Both provide nobleman lane sticker in California if I’m not mistaken, it should be primary market in the US.

David Murray

I think you are mistaken. From what I’ve heard the Prius Prime now has full acceleration capabilities in EV mode. No more engine coming on.

ClarksonCote

When you say “EV mode” are you referring to a mode that is enabled to prevent the engine from coming on during acceleration? That is different than the full performance capabilities being available without an engine. I’m pretty sure their parallel architecture doesn’t allow the latter.

David Murray

Yes.. They are using the same setup as the new Volt with a one-way clutch on the ICE so that both electric motors can be used simultaneously for acceleration. Toyota has said that performance in EV mode will be very similar to performance in hybrid mode.

ClarksonCote

Interesting, nice. I’ll look forward to the acceleration tests. Would be sweet if it can match the Volt’s 2.2 sec 0-30 and 7 sec 0-60 times!

ModernMarvelFan

“oyota has said that performance in EV mode will be very similar to performance in hybrid mode.”

Yes, it should since its hybrid mode is already slow. LOL.

zzzzzzzzzz

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2017-toyota-prius-prime-plug-in-hybrid-drive-review
“Toyota has teased us with a few more facts and numbers to bolster that impression: It says the Prime accelerates more quickly to 40 mph in its EV mode than it does in normal hybrid mode with the engine running.”

Anyway, obviously it is a car for general public, not red light drag racers. 0-60 miles is still around 10 s.

ModernMarvelFan

Yes, saw it.

How much quicker is unknown…

But 0-60mph times is about the same means the 40-60mph acceleration is much slower.

Just what we need. Prius continues to clog up the hwy on ramp regardless of whether it got a plug or not.

Kdawg

It was a joke. Selling the same model for 20 years is the only way they could get 1 million out of it. (maybe)

That’s only if you believe the competition is other plug-in vehicles and the target audience is Prius shoppers. Toyota does not, hence the anticipated growth. The regular Prius is for those who seek outstanding efficiency from their gas fill-ups. The improvement to the handling and system refinement make it a serious contender for those with that goal. Sadly though, gas prices are so low, sales are quite difficult. Nonetheless, Prius is still delivering mainstream numbers. Prius Prime targets a very different audience. It’s those who seek a no-compromise EV experience. You get to-the-floor EV acceleration with a range enough to cover most commutes, yet not break the bank. It’s affordable enough to survive on its own, without tax-credits… especially with a worldwide sales goal of 1,000,000 for this generation. Following depletion, you still get outstanding efficiency. Prius Prime also offers unique draws, like the dual-wave rear window and the distinct LED lighting. The 3.3 kWh charge-rate allows the battery to be replenished quickly too. It may appeal to some considering Prius or another plug-in, but that isn’t Toyota’s primary goal. They want to phase-out production of traditional vehicles. That means finding ways to entice buyers of Camry & Corolla, not… Read more »
ClarksonCote

Does anyone know what it will cost yet?

The first version of the PiP was as expensive as the Volt and had a fraction of the EV range, without the good performance and handling.

I would be surprised if they are able to price the Prime under $30,000 but I could be mistaken.

ModernMarvelFan

“The 3.3 kWh charge-rate allows the battery to be replenished quickly too.”

*sigh*.

3.3kW isn’t 3.3kWh…

3.3kW is the slowest charging rate among just about all PEVs today.

Way to set the standard low.

“3.3 kW is the slowest charging rate among just about all PEVs today. Way to set the standard low.”

A quick stop at the grocery will return anywhere from 6 to 8 miles.

How is that not a decent return?

All Purpose Guru

The incremental cost of a 6.6kW charger is about $100 over the 3.3kW. The size is roughly the same.

I seriously can’t figure out why they would build a brand new car with 4 year old charging technology, unless there are reasons behind it other than building a good car and I’m not gonna go into that here because it always. starts. a. flamewar.

All Purpose Guru

Sorry, that was in reply to ModernMarvelFan. Clicked the wrong Reply button.

Volt was upgraded from 3.3 to 3.6 kW. It didn’t get 6.6 kW, despite the larger pack.

David Murray

I don’t think it is fair to compare the 75,000 PiPs sold in the past. Beyond the abysmal EV range, they also only sold it in a limited number of states and there was little to convince people to upgrade to the PiP unless they wanted carpool lane stickers.

The Prime certainly offers a better package. Everything from being better looking (or less ugly, depending on how you want to view it) than the regular Prius, to 22 miles of full-power EV capability. And don’t forget the large touch screen.

Selling 200,000 a year of these shouldn’t be hard, if that is a world-wide number.

Bacardi

Fully agree and was going to write similar things…To add, the target market for this vehicle is the ICE Prius owner…Most will be trading in their older Prius and may test drive the this version in addition to the regular Prius…The different styling, features and carpool stickers will trump “only 22 miles of range” in many minds…

Andrey Radovski

True, this could’ve been an easy upgrade path for so many Prius owners out there. Unfortunately when I checked out Prime at the NY Auto Show I realized there are only 2 seats in the back (inverter under the middle seat) and the trunk space has been noticeably reduced compared to regular Prius too (batteries in the trunk floor). This makes it a less practical, compromised version of Prius, kinda similar to gen 1 Volt but with less electric range. Not gonna fly for mass market sales until they fix these inconviniences, which probably won’t happen until next version in 5 years, as putting batteries under the floor would likely require a full redesign of the platform.

All Purpose Guru

I seem to remember that the Prius driveline is based on another Toyota; (Yaris? Some Japanese-market vehicle?) it’s not a clean-sheet design nor was it designed to have the volume needed for the battery pack.

Until they build it from the ground up to have room for such things you’ll have encroachment on luggage space and such.

I used to own a Prius, and even in the non-plug in variety the trunk is very shallow due to the battery pack.

speculawyer

Personally I think this one is more ugly. It looks almost as ugly as the Mirai. I think that wedge shape is just so . . . . meh.

But looks are subjective. To each his own.

William

Toyota is really putting their efforts in Fuel Cell vehicles. The Prius 22 mile range is the best gift that GM has been given, in boosting Next Gen 2016+ Volt sales. I don’t see Toyota ever competing side by side with GM in the 50mi.+ PHEV space.

sault

Wish this site had a “like” or “upvote” button for comments.

speculawyer

Serious, they have given GM a nice head start.

But it is kinda sad that GM is blowing it by not putting the Voltec drivetrain into SUVs, minivans, pickups, larger sedans, wagons, etc.

Lou Grinzo

This is fascinating. During the lifetime of this product, likely 5 years, as noted above, there will be a sea change in the public perception of EVs in the US. In most parts of the US they’re still seen as severely compromised, “weird” vehicles that largely appeal to tree huggers. (I’ve heard it all, many times over, since getting my Leaf in 3/2013.) But that will change, in no small part to the Bolt and the Leaf 2.0, and EVs will magically go from what I described above to being seen as the smart, economical, and fun to drive option. Almost anything with a gasoline engine will be seen as a dinosaur, and a PiP with that low battery range will look like a bad parlor trick.

Bacardi

The Leaf and Bolt (which is expecting only 25K sales a year) still fit your “weird/tree hugger perception)…The TM3 will be the only somewhat affordable EV that will meet your “smart, economical and fun to drive option” description…The next evolution would be a 200 mile range mid size normal looking SUV for under $40K…

Mister G

But if strong man Trump and Republicans win in November GM, Nissan, BMW, Hyundai etc..will all end there EV projects and go back to gas guzzlers. Tesla will be in trouble.

“During the lifetime of this product, likely 5 years…”

“Almost anything with a gasoline engine will be seen as a dinosaur, and a PiP with that low battery range will look like a bad parlor trick.”

What does perception have to do with what people actually buy?

The majority continue to use tried & true technologies well past their replacements becoming well proven. We have countless non-automotive examples of that, all with prices far less. Yet, people keep buying them anyway.

Ask yourself why.

jim stack

Toyota invested a lot in old NiMH batteries. They see electric as impossible becuase they had problems with their 1st Lithium batteries. They used Tesla to meet compliance minimum levels.
They also get side tracked by Hydrogen Fuel(fool) cells. Someday they may see the light.

Their 1st generation lithium batteries continue to work just fine. No failures and barely any degradation, despite being on the road for 4.5 years now with the plug-in model. That’s what the gen-4 Prius uses in all but the base model now too. There are no problems.

Bacardi

And the funny thing is the base/Eco NOT using lithium actually gets better MPGs than the more expensive lithium models…

The BASE model uses NiMH.

The ECO model uses lithium.

Hop = 11 Mile EV Range PIP! (2011/2012 start)
Step = 22 Mile EV Range Prius Prime? (2016/2017 start)
Jump =? 44 Mike EV Range Prius Poser? (? 2021/2022 start?)

Just because they CAN do Better, does not mean they Will do Better!

speculawyer

Well, I hope that very few buy your underbatteried and 8 years too late weaksauce Prius Prime.

People should buy Volt, Bolts, i3s, Ford Fusion Energies, Teslas, and other cars instead.

ModernMarvelFan

But Prius/Toyota fans will flock to the dealers to buy Prime because it got a Toyota logo on it.

Now that California has renewed the green HOV stickers. People will flock to the Toyota dealers to pickup their updated version of the HOV lane access vehicles without ever plugging the car in.

My thought of Toyota: “we like the Gen 1 Volt, lets make a car like that, but worse!”

The only thing we can hope for is it will be cheap. My guess it does well outside of US in Volt free markets and with Toyota loyal.

ModernMarvelFan

I have no problem with the Prime if it actually fits your usage case the best.

However, I often find those kind of “weak” PHEV reward people too much by not limiting their hybrid mode operation. It should be BMW i3 REx type of penality or at least Volt like (require mountain mode) where if you drive in gas only, you don’t get some of the key features so you are more likely to plug it in…

You don’t like Prime because it’s too clean & efficient when the plug-supplied electricity is used up? Wait until you discover charge-mode…

ModernMarvelFan

I don’t like Prime because its EV range are too short and people who buy it (majority in CA) are doing it for HOV stickers who would rarely plug it in.

Its hybrids mode isn’t cleaner than EV mode.

That is why it needs more EV range.

“I don’t like Prime because its EV range are too short and people who buy it (majority in CA) are doing it for HOV stickers who would rarely plug it in.”

Since Prime isn’t even available for sale yet, that’s obviously pure greenwash.

Pruisguy

All Toyota has to do is publish that the Pruis Prime battery is upgradable during the life of the car the starting point is 22 EV mode miles, then their sales forecast is achievable.

ModernMarvelFan

Upgradable to what? 30 miles in 5 years for another $5K?

Shawn

Ok to all the Prius haters I own one and I only drive imports the Prius is a great car if you want speed get a prius four my car run’s great I love it and they do not lose value that what it’s about when you invest get

BenjaminG

Two words: Toyota reliability.

Koenigsegg

One word: Toyota