How about a Toyota Prius SUV? When this question was posed to Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota in North America, his reply indicated that the company has no plans of using the Prius nameplate to launch an SUV.
Reason? Well it turns out that in the list of to do things for the company, launching a new hybrid with a Prius nameplate and that too a SUV isn’t on the ‘important’ end of the spectrum. Rumours have been floating around for a couple of years now that Prius family of cars may see a SUV or a Crossover member, but a rejection from Lentz effectively pours cold waters over those rumours – for now at least.
Toyota can be considered one of the pioneers in the hybrid vehicles niche and with over 20 years of experience in manufacturing such vehicles, the automaker has managed to grab a mammoth share of the hybrid market in the US as well as globally. Currently the company is already selling as many as 14 different hybrid vehicles under various nameplates including Prius, RAV4, Camry and Highlander. Bringing in one more member and that too an SUV doesn’t really sound like a good business proposition considering that it already has RAV4 and Highlander cars that do the job for them.
This effectively means that a Prius SUV will most certainly not be in the cards for the automaker at least in the US for now. Prius was initially launched in 2000 and quickly the company managed to garner impressive sales numbers in the first few years. What turned out to be just a single model affair, quickly took shape into a family of cars viz. Prius C, Prius Hybrid, Prius v, and Prius Prime plug-in hybrid car. All these cars along with other hybrid options including the RAV4 Hybrid, Camry Hybrid, and the Highlander Hybrid have given Toyota considerable edge over other players in the segment and a huge market share.
Also, ever since the Prius was launched and more and more hybrids have come onto the scene, consumers have been satisfied with V6 or V8 or a diesel engine and that effectively never pushed companies to go into the SUV direction – at least not Toyota. It did launch the RAV4 Hybrid and it did the work just fine for the company and so a need for an SUV or a Corssover under the Prius nameplate wasn’t realised.
“We have 13, maybe 14 hybrids today,” Lentz said in the statement. “So the need for a family of Prius or Prii is probably less important going forward.”