Skip to main content

3 Reasons The Toyota Prius Was A No Show At SEMA 2019

The SEMA show was a blast. There were loads of amazing custom cars and trucks all over the place. One car that was not there was the Toyota Prius. Here is my take on why.

One of the largest automotive shows ended last Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada. The SEMA show. SEMA, which stands for specialty equipment marketing association, has gained a rather large following over the 52 years it has been going on. Every car maker who is out to make an impression on an audience is there at the show.

Toyota Motor was there and in full dress. They had some fantastic cars there, including the coveted 5th generation Toyota Supra. However, one car that was not there was the Prius. Prius was not there at all, with maybe an exception or two that were not seen by my eyes.

So why would Prius not be at such a big auto show? Here are my three reasons it was not.

Reason 1, The Supra
One of the most hyped-up cars in the past ten years has been the rebirth of the Toyota Supra. An iconic sports car of the '90s, the Toyota Supra gen four or MK4 for enthusiasts, is still a highly sought after car. Then with the conception and production of the new MK5 released this year as a 2020 model, we all knew where it would be.

I think that Toyota wanted to show off the Supra more than anything else this year to get people more involved and get sales up to keep it in production. The Prius, on the other hand, while it has had changes and now has AWD-e capabilities, did not turn many heads.

Prius is a fantastic car, no doubt, but it did not quite squeeze in the same theatrical effect as Supra has.

Reason 2, No Real Amazing Changes To Prius Happened
Apple car play, cool. AWD-e, super. 55+ MPG, even better. 0 to 60 in how long? Prius is not a sports car, and while it is a moderately fun daily driving car, it is nothing special anymore. The market has been saturated with hybrids now, and that has only made Prius become like every other car. Normal. Even though it created that normal. This will also make the Tesla models normal in a few years as well.

Prius has recently gone into the 4th generation, now has apple car play and available all-wheel drive, but that is it. There has not been anything other than that to make Prius standout. It is just the hybrid that started it all. Plain and simple as always.

Reason 3, SEMA Is A Special Kind Of Show
There have been some beautiful cars that have rolled through the trade show floor at SEMA. The Hellcat Prius which debuted in 2017 was way more than a hybrid. It was a Toyota Prius fitted with a 1000 hp Hellcat V8. Just about the complete opposite of what Prius is meant to be.

2017 Toyota Prius Hellcat SEMA Show Las Vegas

A regular everyday average, Prius is not going to make the waves as this Hellcat Prius did. That is because SEMA focused on the performance and aftermarket aspects of the automotive industry. Another nail in the coffin that kept Prius from being at the show.

I like Prius, I currently own two of them, and will be downsizing there shortly back to one. I think the world of this car when it comes to how it has changed the world. I fully plan on, at some point, making a performance Prius and putting it in the SEMA show.

I hope to open up the market to parts that can make Prius and other hybrids attractive to people who are seeking new technology that will bridge the gap between the old and the new. Hybrid cars are still "new," especially to the old-time hot rodders who laugh every time they see one.

Changes are here; the aftermarket needs to adopt them in more. I think that Prius will be at future shows for sure, and completely tricked out.

Thank you for reading, be sure to check out my other article. 1 Annoying Thing My Toyota Prius Does That I Wish It Did Not.

Also Watch New tech means more MPG from your Toyota Prius and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota Prius and Automotive News.

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


Bob Foss (not verified)    April 19, 2020 - 7:55PM

Interesting article. Half my relatives have Prius and I'm the only one driving a "green" car, a Chevy Bolt. If Prius becomes more environmentally conscious, I think, like perhaps moving toward EV implementation, they could do better. As you know, Toyota is moving toward electrification as is GM and they both will move to better batteries than the nickel-metal hydride Toyota still uses in some 2020 models, as well as the lithium-ions. Toyota is just slow I think in moving forward. My dilemma is my lease expires soon on the Bolt (leasing an EV is better than buying). I hate to get an EV with the new battery system coming out in a couple of years, so I may buy but may have to go backward (2021 RAV 4 Prime. plug in)...or even more basic...a hybrid like Prius, RAV 4, or Honda CRV hybrid. But while Prius is no longer what people want to be "green" it is a good start for people too afraid to go electric I think. Of course, I am retired so the roughly 300 miles per charge on my Bolt lasts me several days. If I put several hundred miles a day on a car, I'd have a gas car...or a Prius. Interestingly, GM told me they ditched their Volt (a PHEV) because they realized gas cars are not the future, and they're concentrating on EVs. Thanks for the good article. If Prius improves for the fifth generation, I may consider going backwards from where I am.