2018 Toyota Prius C driving down the highway, loving life and freedom
Peter Neilson's picture

The Real Reasons Why Toyota Discontinued The Prius C

2019 is the last model year for the Toyota Prius C. The question is what is the real reason behind the cancelation of the car? Here is what you need to know.
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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?

Toyota Prius C Green 2018 Discontinued

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.

2020 Corolla Hybrid

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.

Conclusion
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.

Watch the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid Prime video presentation and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news analysis.

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


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Comments

My wife has a Prius C. Excellent car. Perfect size for her. The Camry is too big, as is the Rav 4. The Corolla is on the list of replacements for her 2013 C, but Toyota must make the hybrid available with a sunroof for her to buy it. I wish Toyota would have made a smaller, cheaper hybrid instead of moving only up market. I will not consider any hybrid or electric until they make them with 3 pedals. I enjoy driving and the challenge of shifting.
There already is Honda CRZ my dad has one and I would rather drive my Prius. The CRZ is so underpowered is the problem unfortunately.
I bought a used 2013 Prius C in 2016. In late 2019, I traded it in on a 2019 Kia Niro Touring S. I liked it at first but pick up and size became the issue (re the latter, the car seemed invisible to drivers). Also, it felt too much like a run can (great stereo system). The Toyota RAV4 is too expensive and I wanted a hybrid hatchback or SUV. Research and a great deal lead me to the Niro and I couldn't be happier.
Our government should be mandating we all by hybrids or all electric cars. It seems our specie is determined to go extinct. I love my Prius c. Toyota lost me as a customer after this car
My husband and I each own a Prius C. We LOVE our cars! It is perfect gas mileage and size for us as both of us travel over one hour to work six days a week. We are saddened to hear Toyota decided to discontinue the model. The Prius C's we own have made us fans of the Toyota brand. We look forward to seeing Toyota put out an electric car that has over two hundred miles per one charge at an afforable price like the Prius C.
It was a Yaris with a Prius drivetrain. But it was still a Yaris. The Yaris was a miserable excuse for a car. Toyota knew it. Anyone who drove one knew it.
The car couldnt cool its battery. The screen on the hybrid battery compartment couldnt handle a pet in the car 5% of the time or more. I leased a prius c from 2014 and another from 2015.
I've owned a Prius C for four years. It has been a great car running up and down hills in northeast PA. I am over 6'-3" and have a good driving position. It is too bad that Toyota is discontinuing the C model.
This sentence REALLY makes me take the review seriously: " I never felt as if I needed to ride in or own one, ever."
I have been buying only toyotas for the last 20 to 25 years but after Toyota buddied up to the trump administration I will be shopping for new Hondas from now on. Sad day for Toyota! Makes me sick to my stomach. Just got a new prius and will trade it for an accord after Christmas
I always liked the little Prius C. To me it was better looking than the bigger Prius models of that generation. Unfortunately, I think that it suffered from the same problem that the Smart car faced. It’s biggest advantage was it’s small size, but it wasn’t that much cheaper, and it didn’t get that much better gas mileage than comparably priced cars that offered more room. And once you figure in the subsidies of plug in hybrids and BEVs, you could get a much nicer car that didn’t use any gas. In Europe, with it’s narrow roads, and in big cities, it is a real advantage to have a tiny car, but outside of that it’s a harder sell. And frankly with so many giant Ram trucks, Escalades, and F150s, you could literally get crushed in a tiny car like the Prius C.
I have a 2015 Prius C. I love it and have not had a single problem with it. I want to go all electric, however, and am thinking of getting a Tesla Model 3 next year.
I own a Prius C and love it! We weren't fans of the cockpit design in the regular sized Prius, so we opted for the compact. The dealership constantly tries to get us to sell it due to people wanting this size, and we've gotten calls/offers from other dealerships too. I love the size, leg room, and gas mileage too :)
I will be driving my 2016 Prius C until the wheels fall off. (prob put them back on and keep going)