Toyota to unveil Prius in hopes of reversing slump
TOKYO: What goes up must come down, something even the world's most popular hybrid-electric vehicle has experienced in recent months. So, Toyota officials have reason to be excited as they prepare to reveal an all-new version of the Prius next month.
Like virtually all battery-based vehicles, sales of the Prius have been hit by low gas prices in recent months. Still, it remains the world's most popular hybrid-and one of the best sellers among all vehicles in the big California market. The Toyota Prius hasn't had a major update in seven years, and early reports suggest the new one will grow longer, get a little more power, have better fuel economy and possible stretch its range in all-electric mode. Some reports indicate an optional lithiumion battery may also become available on the 2016 Prius.
Toyota has sent out invitations for journalists to attend a preview of the fourth-generation in Las Vegas on Sept. 8. The Prius was the world's first mass market hybrid when it debuted in Japan on December 10, 1997. The current model has been around since 2009, an unusually long stretch for Toyota. It took three years for the compact vehicle to make it to the U.S. market, where it landed in showrooms shortly after the arrival of the original Honda Insight. Less radical than the competing two-seater, the Prius immediately found a much wider audience that it has maintained and built on around the world. At times, the Prius has become the bestselling vehicle of all types in both Japan and in the greenminded California market. And industry sales data show it snapped up 82 percent of the U.S. hybrid segment's sales during the first seven months of 2015. But demand has taken a rare dip, nonetheless, Prius sales falling 15 percent during that period, year-over-year. Sales numbers for the Prius actually include a mix of vehicles in the so-called Prius "family," including a plug-in hybrid, the bigger Prius V and the subcompact Prius C.