Toyota Ponders Expanding its Prius Lineup
Is America ready for a whole family of Prius-branded vehicles? According to the firm's North American President, Jim Lentz, it's a possibility under serious consideration. Speaking at the Reuters Auto Summit in Detroit, Lentz admitted that using the extreme popularity of the original Prius Hybrid as a springboard for adding new models is more than mere idle speculation. Prius production is set to switch over from Japan to a new facility now being constructed in Blue Springs, Mississippi, when the next-generation arrives as a 2011 model. Just how -- or if -- the timing of that event plays into any future Prius program remains to be seen.
Toyota is already on record as stating that hybrids are the wave of its short-term future, and that by 2020 it will offer some type of hybrid in every one of it vehicle lines. But Lentz's statements at the Reuters symposium seem to indicate that the automaker may be closer than previously thought to actually taking action that would elevate Prius to its own unique "sub-brand" status. Taking a page from the Scion playbook, Toyota also is considering expanding the use of dedicated hybrid areas in its dealer showrooms as a way to more effectively promote the benefits of this cleaner, greener and more fuel-efficient technology to an even broader range of potential customers.