Toyota Prius Prime Wins 2017 World Green Car Award

APR 13 2017 BY MARK KANE 39

The Toyota Prius Prime earned the nod for the 2017 World Green Car title at the New York International Auto Show this week.

For Japanese manufacturer, it’s the second title in a row, as year ago Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell model was considered the best.

With less than 10 days worth of inventory, the Toyota Prius Prime still sold more than 1,600 copies in March. What is the ultimate sales ceiling for the plug-in Toyota?

The win by Prius Prime could be the right choice as initial sales results are pretty encouraging, although we have to say…we thought it would go to the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which has been sucking up awards like a Dyson vacuum cleaner lately.

“The Prius Prime was chosen from an initial entry list of 12 new vehicles from all over the world. Tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and use of a major advanced power plant technology (beyond engine componentry), aimed specifically at increasing the vehicle’s environmental responsibility, were all taken into consideration.

Toyota is no stranger to the World Car Awards program, now in its 13th year. In addition to the Mirai’s win last year, the Toyota Prius earned “Top Three in the World” status in 2010 for both the World Green Car and the overall World Car of the Year categories. The Toyota GT86 was a “Top Three in the World” finalist for 2013 World Car of the Year; the Toyota iQ in 2009 for the same category and the Toyota Harrier Hybrid for 2006 World Green Car.

Vehicles in all award categories are selected and voted on by an international jury panel comprising 75 top-level automotive journalists from 23 countries around the world.”

Toyota Prius Prime breaks the Chevy Bolt EVs’ award streak of late

Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager of Toyota division said:

“It is a great honor to see the Prius Prime named World Green Car. For global automakers like Toyota, this award is a testament to our focus on developing products that both stir the emotions and meet the mobility needs of our customers in all corners of the world.”

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39 Comments on "Toyota Prius Prime Wins 2017 World Green Car Award"

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Do they pay for these awards? This year’s award isn’t necessarily a surprise to me, Prius is popular and while not the best plug-in hybrid out there for several reasons, they have a loyal fan base.

But Toyota won last year with the Mirai fuel cell? That smells funny.

For some, “green car” has to be slow and boring. Anything with decent performance, even if its more efficient, is automatically disqualified in their view. That’s the only explanation why Bolt didn’t win while Mirai and Prime did if they didn’t get paid by Toyota.


Without speaking to the results, I can say the awards aren’t paid for, as one of the voters/jurors comes from one of InsideEVs’s latest family members (out of the UK) – Richard Aucock

Hi Jay, thanks for chiming in! I was being a big eccentric there for sure. As others point out (and I acknowledge below) the difference in availability globally has to play a big part in the decisions as well.

Still, it really surprises me the Mirai won last year, that was really the source of my “paid for” sarcasm. 🙂

I don’t know if it is paid or not, but it is “World Green Car” award, not “World Dragster” or “World Quickest Environment Trasher” or “World Cheapest Big Battery on Wheels”, “World Exclusive Whatever” and so on. As such, criteria is subjective and it does not necessary align with battery fan opinions and love/hate feelings, but overall it looks logical in the grand scheme of things.

Then how do you explain Mirai winning, despite being one of the worst efficient EV in the world that’s even less available than Bolt?

If you’re talking about environmental trasher, Prime with its practically useless AER is far worse. It’d be spewing deadly poison in the air on almost every drive.

Bolt is more efficient than either, AND it delivers better performance. That is far better “green car” than less efficient, poorer performing.

On the note of poisonous fumes from gas, it’s funny how people still don’t want to acknowledge and avoid that.

An example: There’s a proposal to put a gas station/convenience store near my neighborhood, and the community is up in arms about how much fumes/cancer etc. would be present.

But you suggest buying EVs instead of gassers and they think you’re crazy. 😉

That’s an Old line:
Dammed if you do,
Dammed if you don’t!

Or it’s just a NIMBY reaction!

Instead of Telling them about EV’s, what happens if you ask them “What’s the best way to stop using gas or diesel for traveling, since it’s so poisonous?”

Then watch them try and figure it out!

“Then how do you explain Mirai winning, despite being one of the worst efficient EV in the world that’s even less available than Bolt?”

I would explain it that most jurors are not battery cargo cult members 😉 and wanted to acknowledge technological breakthrough of new technology reaching pilot deployment stage. It is about new potential. Sure Bolt is also new and groundbreaking, but it lacks global scale a bit so far and I would imagine they needed to choose one.

As for the “worst efficient” and other standard no-sense trashing points, you should understand very well that it is only your own opinion that is not shared by many in the industry and academic community.

You’re doing some bizarre mental gymnastics to justify not picking Bolt. Fact is, Mirai with about 60 miles per kg of H is about 60 MPG gas car efficiency. Even the worst Tesla P100DL is more efficient, and Bolt is about twice as efficient as Mirai.

If you’re talking about using electrolysis to generate H vs charging the battery, Mirai become even worse. Mirai and Prime are not green compared to most (all?) BEV in market today.

Argument you can make is that last year’s criteria was “new tech” (though Clarity was out in 2008) while this year’s criteria changed to being “more available”. Shifting the goal post is a perfectly valid argument… for a 3 year old child.

“Mirai with about 60 miles per kg of H” – we already heard that 3 year child logic, how many times do you need to discuss the same again and again? Of course you can always cherry pick single energy conversion step and tout efficiency, while ignoring the the rest of the steps. Fact is that well to wheels studies and accounting for manufacturing doesn’t show what you are trying to claim. Neither do people buy cars on some theoretical efficiency percents or fan points – they buy cars on TCO and ability to perform all functions, and upfront price is primary factor in decision making.

Cars like Mirai can eventually substitute all gas cars & trucks by providing ALL their functionality, not just commuting or urban roundabout case. Mirai was big technological step forward from earlier Clarity FCX, as the first available for sale in more significant (although still low) numbers and making mass market within reach. It is natural that it received _world_ green car reward.

Current Clarity FCV started leasing only around New Year in the US, and is still mostly on waiting list.

The Prius is not slow nor is it not fun. The fact is it’s safe, extremely reliable, easy to work on yourself though nothing ever breaks. It’s also a practical fun safe every day usable car with amazing technology.

The transmission is simple high tech amazing. The wheels are always directly connected to the engine and both electric motors at all times, no clutch, no torque converter, no gear changes, and no reverse gear. It is always the same gear, same gear ration between the engine and wheels. The engine starts/stops while always connected to directly the engine and both electric motor including in revers, and while not moving and moving backwards with no gear. An amazing extremely reliable car.

Well, 3 of the steering committee are based in India, Japan and the UK. It might be a bit challenging for them to give a world car award to the Bolt if they aren’t planning a RHD version.

The Bolt’s more limited market might have lost it some votes.

Definitely a fair point!

It does give one pause. The Bolt would be the obvious choice. For instance they got the Canada green car award.
Probably no collusion on that vote.

100% agree and think the Bolt EV should have won…We could say we expect the Prime to outsell the Bolt EV so that’s why it won but as you pointed out the Mirai won last year and was it never expected to sell well…

“But Toyota won last year with the Mirai fuel cell? That smells funny.”

But the Mirai’s hydrogen fuel has no odor, and the Mirai’s water vapor emissions have no odor. 😉

Like the Inside EVs points out, I’m surprised the Bolt EV wasn’t selected. Here’s the award criteria as described above:

“Tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and use of a major advanced power plant technology (beyond engine componentry), aimed specifically at increasing the vehicle’s environmental responsibility, were all taken into consideration.”

The Bolt EV certainly has less tailpipe emissions, less fuel consumption, and uses a more advanced technology (for the pieces beyond engine componentry) and it is aimed specifically at increasing environmental responsibility.

Strange. Well regardless, hopefully plug-ins continue to gain awareness and consideration from the mass market as a result of awards like this.

It isn’t just about single car, but about fleet and ability to displace more polluting cars in more distance future.

Bolt is fine & great but it is somewhat limited in this aspect if you look at world, not just US – isn’t that cheap even for bare bones version, no plans to sell left hand traffic version as noted above or in developing countries (as it is not cheap).

Prius Prime has more chances to become more popular as it is more practical, has more advanced technology (not just battery) and as such will replace more plain gas cars worldwide.

Again, how do you explain Mirai winning last year despite being even less available? It’s not displacing many gas cars, and it’s far more expensive than Bolt.

The Mirai includes revolutionary technology, so I can kinda see how it would win some awards like that, despite being low volume for the foreseeable future.

It supposed to be green car award, not new tech award. Mirai with about 60 MPG equivalent is far, far worse than most EV. SparkEV is about twice as efficient. “New tech” that’s less efficient than existing tech is not green.

Playing devil’s advocate 😈 , perhaps it was almost a tie between the Bolt and the Prime, but the Prime’s first implementation of a vapor-injected heat pump gave the Prime the edge in voting over the Bolt, which has an old-tech battery-sucking resistive heating.

Then again, maybe the judges subconsciously voted for the Mirai and Prime most due to their sexy styling. 😉

Perfect “green” car for motor1’s “green” car section?

I just want to see it transform into a giant talking robot. That is the only acceptable excuse for it looking that way.

Perhaps this is justified from a global perspective. But, I just hate seeing Toyota getting credit for any green technology. Few have done more to retard the growth of all Electric drive vehicles than Toyota and their greedy myopic focus on their slightly electric hybrids. They should be exposed for there never ending efforts to prevent all-electric drive vehicles from becoming the dominant traction drive technology. When they could, and should have, lead us into the future.
For that reason, I dislike Toyota.

So it sounds like you would upvote them for some form of ‘Booby Award’, for heel draging, kicking and screaming, into stalling BEV Growth!


Sure haters gonna hate no matter what. Pathetic.

But how exactly do you think Toyota prevented GM or Honda or anybody else to inventing new great battery that would make mass market battery car feasible beyond expensive low volume toys like RAV4 EV? They even have Toyota Research Institute working on batteries, although fundamental research isn’t typical automaker’s pursuit.
They provided some funds to Tesla (Daimler as well) when Tesla was on the verge of shutdown some years ago.

You should just distinguish what you want or dream to happen and what is physically possible.

This is an odd selection, given that just about every review I have seen says the Volt is a better PHEV. The real win for the Prius is that it is pretty cheap after the rebates. Even a mildly optioned Volt comes out at 35,000$ before rebates and the Bolt is close to 40,000$ in any configuration. I would be interested in.

There’s an important metric here that I don’t see being discussed, but I think is very important. The Prius Prime is $10,000 cheaper than the Bolt EV. Even with the smaller tax credit, it is still works out to $6,500 cheaper than the Bolt EV. And once you factor in some other important things such as:
-Unlimited range
-Toyota dealers vs Chevy Dealers
-lack of charging infrastructure in most areas

It becomes obvious that the Prius Prime is going to sell an order of magnitude more units than the Bolt EV. As a direct result, it will do more for these things as well:
-The Environment
-The Charging Infrastructure
-The understanding and trust of plug-in cars in general

So the Prius Prime, like it or not, will be the more important car in the long term of things.

If you apply that logic, it makes no sense that Mirai won last year.

Well, I agree with you there. I’m no fan of the Mirai.

Pretty good look at the Bolt at a dealership from Now You Know:

Mirai aside (I can’t explain that one), I can see it as the Toyota is a world car. I got the chance to drive both the Bolt and the Prime at the Atlanta Auto Show. While the Bolt it quicker, that’s about it. The Prime is a much nicer car and felt more fully evolved. I was impressed. While the Bolt is nice, it will not be widely available and it doesn’t fit all lifestyles – i.e. those without their own garages/driveways or those who frequently travel long distance. The Prime could be your only car much like the Volt.

If you don’t mind the 4 seats and big bump in hatch area the limit cargo space, sure, Prime is fine. Frankly, regular Prius is better, even if it’s bit more expensive. If AER was closer to 50 miles, I would understand Prime’s shortcomings. But at 22 miles? Not good.

“The win by Prius Prime could be the right choice as initial sales results are pretty encouraging”….How does that explain Mirai’s win last year???/

Calculate how much fuel is saved:

A Bolt replacing a comparably-sized 41 mpg hybrid, driven 15k miles/year, would save 1 gallon/day

A Prime replacing the same hybrid would save 1/2 a gallon a day (more if it replaced a < 41 mpg car)

Now take 1 gallon/day * number of Bolts sold and compare that number to 1/2 gallon/day * number of Primes sold.

Tell me who is reducing more gasoline use (and poisonous fumes)? So yes, sales volumes matter a lot.

Besides name recognition, the Prime may also be selling more due to larger interior, lower MSRP, and ability to fill up in 5 minutes before driving 500 miles non-stop (however impractical that may be)

Something smells. I am not a GM fan but in all fairness the Bolt is the 2017 winner. How much did Toyota pay to get this award?