Toyota was the first to bring out a mass market hybrid all the way back in 1997. The Prius, which made its way to our shores in 2000, remains the most popular hybrid in the world. But Toyota knows that can’t last forever, and an all-new Prius is now in the works. Recently, Motor Trend spoke with an anonymous source from Toyota on the subject of what to expect from the next generation of Toyota’s big-volume hybrid, and here’s what is rumored to be in the works.
The most important thing about the new Prius is that it will have a completely new hybrid drivetrain. The new THS (Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive) will be radically different from the current system. This is partly because there is so much competition from other manufacturers using similar systems that if Toyota wants to maintain its sales lead, it will have to bring out a car which is as big a game changer as the original Prius. Not only is Toyota facing competition from Honda and the Civic Hybrid (which on paper is largely identical to the Prius), but many of the patents on Toyota’s current hybrid system will expire in 2013, and by then competition is really expected to heat up.
This is why Toyota’s original plans called for a new Prius in 2014, although economic factors have pushed that back to 2015. The new THS is now essentially complete, but what remains is for Toyota to design the car to use it. The drivetrain and the rest of the car are being designed by two different departments, so the rest of the car was on hold until the THS design was complete. This is why news is only just coming out that Toyota is mulling a new look for the Prius, because they haven’t been able to being work until now.
Toyota and its subsidiaries have sold more than 4 million hybrids over the last 15 years, far more than any other company. This is not only because their technology is good, but also because Toyota understands the business side of hybrids better than anyone. They know how to make consumers excited about the new technology, and the new Prius will not only be more technologically advanced, but we’d bet that it will also be an even bigger sales success.