The year was 1966 in Japan. The first Toyota Corolla rolled off the assembly line and into our hearts. It has been a Toyota Motor Corporation staple ever since then.
The Toyota Prius also has an origin story that has changed the lives of people who own them. The thing is, most do not know that Prius was designed with a dirty little secret. It is built on a Corolla platform.
So why didn't Toyota make their first hybrid a Corolla hybrid and carry on the legacy? I think it is because of the significance of the meaning of Prius. The name Prius, meaning to come before, was designed to be a bridge to the future of the automotive industry. Corolla did not have that type of significance even though it was a fuel-efficient vehicle.
I think now that Toyota is introducing Corolla hybrid, Prius may have outlived its usefulness. So was this the plan of Toyota all along? Here are three indications that Corolla hybrid may put an end to the Prius production.
First Indicator, Prius Was Designed From A Corolla Chassis, For A Reason
I touched lightly on this, but I want to get deeper into it. I think that Toyota knew hybrid technology was going to be revolutionary, but they needed it to have an impact that would rattle the world. Toyota chose a name that could take a beating if it failed. Corolla was a brand staple that Toyota knew if it took a hit could destroy the brand overall.
I think that Toyota knew that utilizing an existing chassis and giving it a different name was to keep Corolla secure. Think about it, not one of those people that were involved with the Prius had a clue if it was going to work. Meanwhile, Toyota could keep the hot-selling Corolla going. Great idea.
Another essential thing to consider here also is cost. Toyota was building a completely new car. Production costs would have been massive. The plant, tooling, logistics, parts, and everything in between already made the Prius a high price from the start. So using an existing chassis made sense.
I think now that Toyota has established the hybrid name, they are looking to recoup the money spent over the years keeping the Prius brand alive. It would make sense now to ax Prius and use Corolla.
The second Indication, Sedans Sales Are Falling
Think about what would happen if Toyota cut out siblings like Camry, Corolla, and Avalon. They would lose a massive part of their business. The cars that are not falling in sales are small utility vehicles like the Rav4 or Highlander.
If sedans sales are falling, it will make sense for Toyota to keep a brand that has been with them through thick and thin. Prius has been there, but Corolla has a more extended history with the company.
Indication 3, It Does Not Make Sense To Make Two Corolla Hybrids
From a production standpoint, if the Corolla and Prius come from the same chassis, it does not make sense to make two cars that are mostly the same thing. The added costs for producing the same car with two different names does not make financial sense.
I think that Toyota has been analyzing this for quite some time now and finally realized it needs to be one or the other.
Prius, you are my homie, but when it comes down to it, your relative, I think, has a better chance of surviving. Then again, I am no wizard, and I cannot predict the future. I could be wrong on this, but I think my theory is pretty solid.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to check out my other article, Five Obvious Reasons The Toyota Prius Is The Best First Time Hybrid.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting