If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, or so the old saying goes, but Toyota might be aiming to do just that.
It seems the brand is pondering whether or not to keep its Californian cross-bearing Prius hybrid shaped like an ugly hunk of cheese. Polarizing as it is, the fact remains that Toyota blazed a trail that Honda and Chevrolet would soon follow. But the question still remains: has the Prius’ curiously popular style run its course?
It’s an issue Toyota’s U.S. vice president of strategic planning, Chris Hostetter, is weighing carefully with his team. ”One of the avenues we’re exploring right now is to evolve it, and the other is to really evolve it,” he said to Automotive News last month.
As Hostetter and his team continues to debate the nebulous design, it’s difficult not to weigh the shape’s merits and shortcomings.
On the one hand, it took everything conventional wisdom and aesthetics would suggest about attractive car design and ignored it — a strategy that ended up paying off. That’s because on the other hand, the cacamamie car caught hold of the market with surprising grip.
Global Prius sales through September reached 691,281, which is a 60 percent increase over last year. Strong as that point is, the car’s biggest strength is probably how its silhouette is synonymous with hybrid cars.
“We are emboldened to make a much different, much better Prius,” Hostetter said. “The consequences of that so far have been, I would say, dramatic.”
Despite that, it isn’t clear where the drama will surface. While you might assume that would mean a dramatic new body style, it could also suggest a revamped drivetrain — something the Prius is due for considering it still uses nickel-based batteries.
Then again, Toyota might be forced to capitulate and offer an anti-Prius of sorts. A car that offers the drivetrain without shrieking “hybrid driver” loud enough to silence a save the whales protest. The Prius C already went a tiny step in that direction, but Toyota might be wise to walk farther down that path, snatching a wider swath of buyers.
[Source: Automotive News]