Still No Toyota Prius Killer Despite Many False Headlines
Ever since the Toyota Prius emerged as the world's most popular and most successful green vehicle, publications and author' with an agenda have been creating stories about the next "Prius Killer." The general idea is that a company (other than Toyota) has a new vehicle in the works that corrects the "mistakes" that Toyota has made with the Prius and will thus outsell it. Another theme is that a new vehicle of a different type, such as an electric vehicle of some design will be the "replacement" for the Prius. Every single article ever written along these lines has been proven false. Let's break it down.
Hyundai Ioniq "Prius Killer "
Hyundai's Ioniq is one of our favorite green cars. The Ioniq is surprisingly large inside, and like all Hyundai products, has a great infotainment system. Hyundai opted to use a dual synchronous clutch transmission in its Ioniq Hybrid and the car arguably drives a bit better than the Prius. The Hyundai Ioniq also has a longer (arguably better) warranty. Clearly, this will be the car that dethrones the Prius. Nope. Hyundai sold 7,599 Ioniq family cars through the end of June. Toyota sold 29,241 Prius family cars in that same half-year period. Toyota's Prius outsells the Ioniq by about 4 to 1.
Kia Niro "Prius Killer"
The Kia Niro is the same car as the Hyundai Ioniq. They share pretty much all of their drivetrain components and are made by companies under the same ownership. We love the Kia Niro. In fact, the Niro BEV is this writer's favorite car overall right now. However, Kia sold just 11,942 Niro family cars in the first half of 2019, about a third of the Prius's family sales. CarBuzz named the Niro a Prius Killer.
Honda Insight "Prius Killer"
Next up is a name that Honda has brought back from the dead. The new Honda Insight was named by HotCars a "Prius Killer." So how is the Insight doing? 12,548 units sold in 2019 is nothing to sneeze at. With a run rate of about 2,000 units per month, the Insight is indeed doing better than the Ioniq and Niro.
Ford C-Max - "Prius Killer"
The Ford C-Max was a copy of the Prius in many ways. We hardly ever see any in the wild, yet the New York Daily News called the C-Max a "Prius Killer." So how many C-Max cars did Ford sell in the first half of 2019? Thirty-eight.
Chevy Bolt & Nissan Leaf "Prius Killers"
When the Chevy Bolt first came out it seemed like a winner. The Bolt had the range that the Nissan Leaf lacked, a fun nature, and hit a home run on safety. The Drive called the Bolt a "Prius Killer." Heck, everybody called the Nissan Leaf a Prius Killer, including Slate. Now representing almost the totality of the affordable battery-electric vehicle market these two combined have a total sales of 14,289 units in 2019. So less than half of the Prius family's sales.
There are green cars that have higher sales than the Prius. The RAV4 Hybrid is now edging past the Prius and Tesla's premium/performance Model 3 is selling at a higher rate. However, none of these cars has "killed" the Prius. It just quietly goes about its business every month, the top-selling affordable green car in the world and in the U.S. market. Maybe the "Prius killer" headlines should be laid to rest?
John Goreham tweets at @johngoreham. Please send him news tips and follow us at @TorqueNewsAuto.