The Future of Toyota Prius
Peter Neilson's picture

How The Toyota Prius Has Become It's Own Worst Enemy

Haters will say that the Toyota Prius is a "bridge technology". Other die hard fans will continue to believe in the car, even if it sees a hit in sales. While the future of Prius is uncertain, here is how the brand could look in the not too distant future.
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Toyota Prius. A name synonymous with, and what made the term "hybrid" a real household name for many of Americans. This car built a market that has revolutionized the automotive industry.

As car manufacturers are chasing that perfect gasoline powered vehicle, it is important to remember why they are. I will explore a couple of solid reasons why Prius has become its own worst enemy when it comes to seeing a sustainable future for the brand.

The Toyota Prius Is A Bridge Technology

If you like history, and especially automotive, it is easy to spot why the Prius was needed in our lives. Fuel prices were on the rise, emissions levels and smog were still a problem in quite a few major metro areas. While some smaller compact cars were getting well over 30 miles per gallon, new standards from CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy), were pushing for higher fleet miles per gallon. The solution for Toyota was a no brainer, it was the Prius.

The "before" car which was had started conception back in 1993, was meant to be a car that would bridge current technology with future technology. Prius had to overcome many challenges in the beginning well before it came to market. What really strikes me, is the fact that before all this talk of Prius trending down, Toyota had already adopted the idea that it eventually would be nothing more than a bridge to the "Mirai" or the future.

I believe what we are seeing here is actually is what Toyota had planned out all along. Now are just seeing their master plan. This is a very interesting point, mainly because of how much car makers have improved gasoline engine technology over the past 2 decades.

A great example of this is my 2007 Prius vs the in-laws 2014 Camry. 7 years of technology difference. What I find fascinating is this. On a recent road trip the Camry, a mid-sized sedan, hit 40 miles per gallon at 70-80 miles per hour on a 8 hour road trip. The Prius on a similar trip hit the same 40 miles per gallon. Prius is designed for fuel economy right? Yes, although highway and in town driving are two different animals, I could almost not believe that a larger, more powerful car was knocking on the figurative fuel economy door of my sweet little red Prius. Absolutely crazy.

While I love my Prius, and want to hit a million miles in it, looking at how rapidly technology is advancing and this has me considering other modes of transportation. Especially if they are less prone to problems.

Another point to consider here as well is what the actual future of the automotive industry is. Tesla, the great disruptor of the past 10 years, has put all car manufacturers on point with the future transportation. Electric cars are no joke, and while GM failed that experiment back in 96', Tesla has made it known that electric cars are here to stay. Though, with many of the features on any of the Tesla models, they would not be where they are today, had Prius not "bridged" that technology gap for them. Just another reason that Prius could be nothing more than just that.

The Demise Of The Toyota Prius

Like Michael Jordan of old, Toyota Prius, has for sure been an all-star for many years. Every good thing does come to and end, and just like Jordan, Prius is slowing down. Sales have been decreasing for the past 5 years. Even with modern refreshes and new interior tech, Prius just is not keeping up with the Jones'.

While we can appreciate the idea of hybrids, the inevitable has happened. A younger, sleeker, quicker vehicle has come in and has been basking in the limelight. It was bound to happen, and just like Jordan was a role model for LeBron, Prius will be the Legend that will always go down in history as the one who really started it all.

Conclusion

I love Toyota, and I applaud them for helping us get to where we are today with our modern vehicles. I am a die hard fan and even have owned my self over 6 similar model year Camry sedans. I have owned Tacoma, 4runner, Camry, Highlander and Prius. My inlaws own Highlander and Camry as well. So, for me to say that Toyota is not part of my life is just a fallacy. I think that we need to do what Toyota did back in 1993 and look at what can bridge our future in hopes that we will have a better tomorrow.

Hybrid Power Charge Indicator Toyota Prius

Thank you Toyota for the Prius, I sure enjoy the car, and will probably still continue to enjoy it for many years to come, but there is a reason I am not longer driving my 1998 Camry either, although I miss that car. You have been a pioneer and industry leader that has given us so much. See you in the books.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about How the Toyota Prius has become its own worst enemy. Check out my other story Why the first generation Prius is better than either generation Nissan Leaf.

See you in the next story where I am discussing why the Toyota Prius AWD-e is the best one yet and why car enthusiasts and average car guys loathe the Toyota Prius.

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 is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter.


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Comments

You could’ve had someone proofread your article, before posting it. I came across 13 issues in grammar and spelling. With that said, I am not, nor have I ever been, a Journalism or English-major or instructor. However, I do applaud your candor in automotive knowledge on Toyota, the Prius, and their history.
Thanks for the heads up. I will make sure to make some corrections.
Sorry but this is one of the WORST written pieces I have had the displeasure of reading in a long time (and I find online articles with typos, incorrect sentence structures, misspelled words and atrocious grammar every day)! This one has them all! But I’m happy you’re pro Prius, as I am. My 2017 Prius2 gets an average of 45-50MPG. I drive for Uber/Lyft & couldn't do it without my Prius. The ONLY negative thing I can say is the plastic fenders & undercarriage are the worst design flaw I’ve ever seen. I’m 64 and have driven my fair share of cars & had I known the amount of plastic that makes up a Prius, I might not have bought one despite the great mileage. She has suffered worse than any car I’ve ever owned. On the bright side, it’s a LOT cheaper to replace fenders of plastic than of metal. ;) But seriously, hire an editor before you publish again. O.o
Sorry about the errors, i'll own my mistakes for sure. I usually do not have mistakes like this.
I also had the undercarriage problem. I replaced it the first time, the second time, I took a pair of tin snips to it. Toyota has been great to me! When my battery went out, the Toyota out of warranty program underwrote the cost and my dealership helped with the labor costs under a customer loyalty program. Couldn't be happier!
May be, but just bought my 4th Prius, and not having any regrets.
Funny I own a 2014 Prius plug in and end up at my destination with 60 mpg. Drive there 5 days a week ways right around 60.
First off, I hope that the Prius NEVER looks like that awkward concept mess that you show in that picture. Unfortunately it cannot be unseen, but that bizarre design would seal the Prius' doom in short order for sure! As Toyota migrates the rest of their cars to being hybrids and PHEVs the Prius line up needs to become Toyota's BEV brand, just like it has been their hybrid brand. They just need to move quickly so that Toyota is not seen as dropping the EV ball.
I own a 2017 Prius Prime, and recently rented a 2018 Toyota Camry. The Prius is smooth, quiet, fast, has a better ride by far than the Camry. Just as roomy with the hatchback, better than a trunk IMO. The Prius planetary gear drivetrain was far superior to the Camry's jerky 8 speed automatic. The Prius averages 74 mog vs. the Camry's 32 (with a 4 cylinder)!!! Needless to say I couldn't wait to get my Prius back and return the Camry, not even close! Try driving the new Prime before bashing a model line based on your old car.
You say you love the Toyota Prius, but it doesn't read that way. It reads like someone from Torque News kind of despises the torqueless little guy. Finally, this article needs a close review with a red pen. "Tesla, the great disruptor of the past 10 years, has for sure point all car makers on point with changing the way we look at future transportation," maybe the worst sentence I've read in an article in a long while, and that's just one thing that needs attention.
Yeah, thanks for pointing that out. Sometimes it is best to have a second set of eyes show you where you messed up. I appreciate the feedback.
Surely you didn't mean to post this article in its current state. When you insert words or change the structure, at least read over the result to see if it still makes sense. Very hard to follow if you don't bother.
The Prius has NOT become it's worst enemy. The ENEMY was Toyota MANAGEMENT - dictating to the body designers. The fourth generation front and rear exteriors look so butt-ugly that I couldn't consider upgrading my wonderful 2011 in order to get newer important safety technology. The blindingly shiny, reflective, stupid white interior plastic consoles and lack of Android Auto were other factors.
I'm very skeptical that you got 40 mpg in a Camry at 70-80 mph for an extended trip...more importantly, if we cherry pick drives I can take my Prius on a particular trip that's about 100 miles of driving and get in the mid 60 mpg range. You've used an anecdotal situation to argue a point that was pretty good, but turned it into an exaggeration.
Why is Toyota so s-l-o-w to make their line of trucks more fuel efficient? I mean, the 2019 Ram is getting 20 MPG. What’s up with Toyota?
I love my 2007 Prius, and almost bought a Prime. Then I bought a used 2015 Nissan Leaf EV, and I have solar panels on the house roof to charge it. I wish Toyota would make a 100% EV Prius. I will never buy a fossil fuel car again. My Leaf has very little maintenance and is a fun car to drive.
In the headline, "it's" should be "its" .
First Prius wasn't designed to be driven long trip 70 to 80 miles per hour for Optimum gas mileage. The Prius going 6265 on the interstate should get you about 48 miles per gallon higher speeds it dropped significantly. second there's no way in hell a camry is going to get you 40 miles per gallon going 70 to 80 miles per gallon that's a stupid to say. My Prius is a 2007 Prius with 215000 miles on it. I have replace the battery pack at 155000 Miles. Not one other problem with the car. the main reason Prius cells are slower these last few years is the previous year Priuses don't break. on a side note your video is awful, and the camera angle from a table top down below looking up to you towards your ceiling is just wrong. and wow making the video you seem distracted looking to the left and to the right which is just creepy to me. Eye to eye is a better camera angle, not the parent to child angle which is horrible.