Toyota Halts Production of Prius Plug-in Hybrid Until Late 2016

By · May 01, 2015

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Toyota announced this week that production of the current generation Prius Plug-in Hybrid will cease in June. “We are hard at work developing the next-generation Prius Plug-in Hybrid,” wrote Nathan Kokes, Toyota brand manager for advanced technology vehicle marketing, in a post on PriusChat.com. “We are looking forward to sharing more details with you as we approach our launch date.”

Toyota is expected to introduce the fourth-generation of the Prius, the one without a plug, later this year, although an exact date has not been identified. The conventional Prius is expected to get about 55 miles a gallon, a level of efficiency that, for some consumers, calls into question the need for the current plug-in variant. Among plug-in hybrids, the pluggable Prius has the lowest all-electric range. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Prius can go six miles purely on electricity, or 11 miles with grid-supplied electricity plus some gas.

The end of production of the plug-in Prius will create a gap in availability for more than a year. Until Toyota shares more details, as promised by Kokes, we won’t know how long the plug-in Prius will be absent from dealerships. Last June, Automotive News reported that production of the new plug-in version is expected to begin in about October 2016.

Despite being regarded as the least electric of plug-in hybrids, and therefore the one with the shortest all-electric range, the plug-in Prius has consistently been one of the best-selling plug-in cars on the market. In 2014, it was the fourth most popular plug-in car in 2014—falling behind only the Tesla Model S, Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt in sales.

As the current Prius reaches the end of its product cycle, sales of the plug-in Prius have dropped behind Ford’s two plug-in hybrids, Fiat 500e, and Chevrolet Spark in cumulative 2015 sales so far. Removing the plug-in Prius from production will have an adverse affect on overall sales numbers for plug-in electric vehicles.

Toyota has not put a lot of marketing effort behind the Prius Plug-in Hybrid—its only plug-in vehicle. However, the company will soon make a major push for the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car.

The key question is how much additional all-electric range the new plug-in Prius will have, when it arrives in late 2016. “We have been listening very carefully to Prius Plug-in Hybrid owners and are considering their requests for additional all-electric range,” said Satoshi Ogiso, Toytoa managing officer, in 2013.

Since that time, General Motors announced that the second-generation Chevy Volt will boost its all-electric range from 38 to about 50 miles. Pure battery-electric cars with about 200-miles of range are expected in about two years. Until details are released, it’s uncertain if Toyota will stand firm on its belief in hybrids with smaller batteries, or fall in step with the trend toward bigger battery packs offering greater range. Regardless of the all-electric range, the new plug-in Prius is expected to be offered with an option for wireless charging.

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