Toy­ota to un­veil Prius in hopes of re­vers­ing slump

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

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.

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