Toyota unveils new Prius hybrids amid skepticism over its EV strategy

2023 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

Toyota

Toyota engine isn’t giving up its flagship Prius hybrid anytime soon, despite investing billions in all-electric vehicles amid criticism, it hasn’t moved into the up-and-coming segment fast enough.

The automaker unveiled new versions of the Prius hybrid and Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, late Tuesday. Both are considered “electrified” vehicles rather than fully electric. They continue to use gas engines along with electrical components that make the vehicles more fuel efficient.

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Toyota has not released US specs for the 2023 Prius models, but the vehicles differ noticeably in styling from current versions. The exterior is sportier, less idiosyncratic and looks more aerodynamic. But the overall silhouette is still recognizable as a Prius.

2023 Toyota Prius hybrid

Toyota

Moving forward with the Prius as other automakers pledge to go all-electric in the coming years is part of Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda’s electrification strategy. The auto scion believes EVs aren’t the only solution for automakers to achieve carbon neutrality – which the company hopes to do by 2050.

Simon Humphries, senior design manager at Toyota, has not shyed away from recent criticism of the company’s ongoing plans to develop hybrids alongside battery electric vehicles, or BEVs, and other potential technologies.

“With the current focus on BEVs, not a day seems to go by without hearing, ‘So how long are you going to continue making hybrids?’ Disclaimer: Today I’m going to talk about Toyota’s new hybrid car,” Humphries said during the livestream unveiling in Japan.

Since the launch of the Prius in 1997, Toyota says it has sold more than 20 million electrified vehicles worldwide. The company says those sales avoided 160 million tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the impact of 5.5 million all-electric battery vehicles.

Interior of the 2023 Toyota Prius

Toyota

Toyoda and other business leaders have said that all-electric vehicles are not viable for many drivers – especially not for the foreseeable future – as not all parts of the world will adopt electric vehicles at the same rate due to the high cost of the vehicles and a lack of infrastructure .

Humphries echoed the company’s position, saying that the “Prius is an eco-car that is within everyone’s reach. To achieve carbon neutrality, everyone in the world must participate.”

“It is a car that should be driven by all people, not just a few. That is its greatest strength and the reason for its existence,” he said.

In the US, the 2022 Prius starts at about $25,000 — far less than most all-electric vehicles — and hits as much as an EPA-certified 56 MPG. The 2022 Prius Prime plug-in hybrid starts at around $29,000 and has a 133 MPGe, which takes into account the vehicle’s 25-mile all-electric range and the fuel economy of its gas engine.

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