Toyota mulls possible shape redesign for next-generation Prius

Article by Anita Panait, on November 6, 2012

Toyota Motor Corp. is considering whether to retain the aerodynamic wedge-shape of the Prius as it designs the next-generation of the hybrid line. According Chris Hostetter, Toyota's U.S. group vice president for strategic planning, many people have been hinting that they are ready for a new Prius look.

Hostetter, who is collaborating with Toyota engineers on the redesign of the Prius, remarked that maybe the architecture for the vehicle has been a bit similar for the last two generations.

Hostetter told Bloomberg in a phone interview that while Toyota has yet to select a look from "a menu to choose from" for the next Prius, one of the options they are exploring is to evolve it. Automotive News reported in July that the redesigned Prius is due to be rolled out in the spring of 2014.

Toyota’s drive to widen Prius's appeal comes as the hybrid line cash in on record deliveries, topping sales rankings in markets like Japan and California. A possible redesign of the Prius is being goaded by stricter fuel-economy rules in US as well as tougher hybrid competition from Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co.

According to figures released by Toyota, the carmaker posted a 60-percent jump in global sales of the Prius – including main hatchback, V wagon, plug-in model and subcompact Prius C – in the first nine months of 2012 to 691,281 units.

The carmaker was able to sell 509,399 units in 2010, when it offered only the hatchback variant. According to John Wolkonowicz, an independent analyst who specializes in automotive history, the shape of the Prius was perfect for the product as it was distinctive. Wolkonowicz, however, noted that the current shape also appealed to only a certain type of buyer, so it is now time for Toyota to sell the Prius to a broader market.

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