Toyota Prius may not reach sales target in 2013 due to lower gas prices

Article by Christian A., on April 24, 2013

Gas prices this year have been low compared to last year’s prices, prompting Toyota to make adjustments to its 2013 sales projections for the three-vehicle Prius hybrid range, according to a Bloomberg report. In California, the Toyota Prius family is one of the most in-demand cars but how it fares in the other states mostly depend on the prices of fuel.

Toyota had estimated that over 250,000 units of the Prius will be sold in 2013, which is higher than how many it sold in 2012. But in the first quarter, sales of Prius-branded vehicles fell by 8.4%. Nevertheless, sales for other Toyota and Lexus hybrid models grew by 2.4%. Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American CEO, remains optimistic.

He said that there are more than 2 million Toyota hybrid owners in the U.S., majority of whom are return customers. He added that Toyota doesn’t think that Ford’s hybrid offerings pose any threat to it. Because of the slowdown in Prius demand, the start of Prius production in the U.S. may also be postponed. It’s believed that the Prius will be produced at its newly opened Mississippi facility, which presently builds the Corolla compact sedan.

For Toyota, the most significant element when it comes to the design of the new Prius was to focus on the aerodynamic performance. It was important that this new model would continue to have that attractive profile but ensure that the function was not compromised. A good example of this is the triangle form that is in the current version. Given that this feature is what makes the Prius immediately recognized, the designers made sure to keep this dynamic element.

However, the designers made sure as well to make changes to the overall profile of the vehicle and even that of the pillar position and the angle. Further, by extending the front pillar in a more forward manner, it enhances even more the performance-focused form. Looking at the corners of the new Prius, for front and rear, the design reveals one that is aerodynamic, athletic, and sharp.

Starting from the front, the side character lines are indeed powerful and rise towards the rear. This helps it define the model’s geometric glazed shape. Looking at the rear section, the rear treads are now wider allowing the vehicle to have a stance that is more solid and more firmly rooted. When it comes to dimensions, the new Prius is longer compared to the current version by 0.6 inches.

This is mainly due to the front cowl being moved forward. Measurement of the wheelbase though remains the same. Overall height has not been changed as well though the roof profile was changed with the rooftop being made closer to the rear by 3.9 inches. Doing so puts more focus on the wedge shape and at the same time improves the headroom in the rear while also enhancing the aerodynamics.

Talking about aerodynamics, it is safe to say that the new Prius may have one of the lowest Cd in the world. While the current generation has Cd at 0.26, the new Prius measures a Cd of 0.25. One reason for this reduction is that according to Toyota, this new model has undergone more hours of testing in the wind tunnel than any other model of the brand.

Thus for a mass-produced model, it clearly has one of the cleanest aerodynamic silhouette. To make this happen, the designers at Toyota made sure to look into how the body is shaped, the wheelhouse liner, shape of the vehicle’s wheels, and the underfloor.

Further, Toyota also looked into the airflow that was running below the car. The engineers made modifications to the fender line and its shape and the underfloor’s front surface. They even put in an extra fin on the cover of the rear floor. The goal was to increase this model’s linear stability.

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