The Real Reasons Why Toyota Discontinued The Prius C
Toyota announced that 2019 would be the last year of the Prius C. A cute, smaller version of Prius that seemed to resonate with quite a few people. So, if Toyota is so "pro hybrid," why would they cancel one from the lineup?
There is always speculation when a car company does something rather drastic like this. For instance, Toyota canceled a complete vehicle series known as Scion. Here is what I think is going on and why Toyota pulled the plug on the C.
Suspicion One: It Did Not Fit The Mold They Wanted
I wholeheartedly believe that when Toyota puts a car on the market, the research results tell the story. Prius C, I know, fit a particular segment that was both affordable and practical for many small families of 4 or less.
With a base price of $21,530, this little economy box was $2,000 less expensive than its older sibling. With some very respectable numbers of 48 city mpg, and 43 highway miles per gallon, the car was quite attractive. Or was it?
For a mere $2,000 more, you could have a base Prius that was bigger and more comfortable. The 54 city mpg and 50 highway were also more attractive to Prius buyers who bought the car for the incredible fuel economy.
I think that Toyota had great intentions of reaching a particular crowd with Prius C, which they did. I believe that once people saw what they could get with a base Prius, the C became useless.
Suspicion Two: Corolla Hybrid Has More Potential
With such a big name like Corolla, it would make sense for Toyota to push the brand. Prius, while it does have a strong brand name now, has the name because of the base Prius.
Corolla has been a staple in the Toyota line up since 1966. It is also larger and practical for small families than the Prius C. Starting at a mere $23,100, it offers higher mpg and more cargo space than the C. It also has more legroom for the passengers. Also, throw in the fact that Prius was already a hatchback, having another just flooded the segment.
Corolla, on the other hand, is a regular sedan. It has a regular trunk and ordinary, well, everything. It fits better because it gives Toyota a way to sell more of Corolla.
Suspicion Three, It Did Not Make Financial Sense
Both Corolla and Prius make sense. The volumes that sell keep the business going. With sales falling steadily since 2012, 8,399 units do not make sense. Falling from 40,000 a year to just over 8,000 is a hard pill to swallow.
Prius has been an excellent vehicle for Toyota. Toyota Hybrid Technology is also a huge part of that. The Toyota Hybrid System, or THS, is interwoven into several of the existing platforms that Toyota offers currently — giving the hybrid a better springboard from which to launch.
I will not miss the Prius C. I never felt as if I needed to ride in or own one, ever. I think that Toyota made an excellent business decision here, getting rid of it. I hope that C owners now find themselves behind the wheel of a Corolla, Rav4, or Camry hybrid.
Toyota has made an incredible machine that we can all enjoy, but even good things must come to an end. These reasons here are my own opinion. I believe that whatever the case was, it was for the better.
Thank you for reading. I hope you fill your Friday with fun and adventure. Be sure to check out my other article, 3 "must-haves" for your Toyota Prius this holiday season.
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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