Toyota is drawing flak for its decision not to sell the latest streamlined upgrade of Prius hybrid cars in Australia for vague reasons.
The Japanese auto giant unveiled its 2023 fifth-generation Toyota Prius hybrid in Japan and the US in November.
It has a more streamlined look and generates headlines on car news websites, such as ‘Lamborghini looks meet fuel economy’.
The motoring community in Australia took notice too. Motoring journalist Mike Costello enthused: “It looks great: sleek, stylish and completely different from what we’ve come to expect from Toyota’s longstanding ecology leader.”
However, it won’t be seen on Australian roads – a Toyota spokesman told Daily Mail Australia there were no plans to bring the new Prius Down Under.
“Toyota’s hybrid-electric technology is now available in nine models in Australia, several of which are similar in size to the Prius, so we don’t see a role for the new Prius at this stage,” the spokesman said.
Japanese car giant Toyota says it will not launch its latest streamlined model Prius plug-in hybrid cars in the Australian market
“Last year, Toyota sold 72,815 hybrid-electric vehicles and we expect Toyota to continue its strong leadership in sales of these vehicles in 2023, building on the proud legacy that began with the original Prius in 2001.”
Costello called this decision short-sighted.
“Toyota, in making this decision, took the wrong lesson from the fact that the old model didn’t start and pulled the knot at exactly the wrong time,” he wrote.
The new Prius model features a more powerful 2.0-litre hybrid system rated at 144kW, which is a big increase over the 90kW of the previous model’s 1.8-litre capacity.
A plug-in hybrid model from the new brand offers 164 kW and accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.7 seconds with an electric range that is 50 percent longer, which equates to an extra 60 km, with a battery of 13 .6 kWh.
When the battery is low, the Prius continues to run on its hybrid engine, which has a fuel consumption of 4.8 l/km.
Those who buy the top-of-the-range of the new Priuses will get a 12-inch touchscreen dashboard with Toyota’s latest software, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation and over-the-air updates.
Other features include dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats, an ambient lighting system, USB-C ports, an electric parking brake, a panoramic sunroof and, on the plug-in hybrid model, solar panels on the roof.
Safety features include autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
There’s also automatic parking, a built-in dash cam, a digital rear-view mirror and, on some models, in-car power outlets that allow external electrical devices to be charged from the car’s battery.
Toyota’s latest Prius comes with a 12-inch touchscreen that runs the latest car software
Despite the Prius being the company’s pioneering and flagship model of battery-powered cars, Toyota has replaced it in Australia with other brands and only 35,000 of the maker’s more than 300,000 hybrid cars sold in Australia have been Priuses.
After drastically declining sales, falling to less than 100 by 2021, Toyota pulled the Prius from the Australian market altogether last May.
Several car enthusiasts called it a bad move by Toyota.
“That new model would be the perfect upgrade/replacement for us when the time comes. Come on Toyota! Wake up to yourself,” one wrote.
As sales declined, Toyota withdrew Prius’ previous models from the Australian market
The new Prius has hip new styling with the same incredible fuel economy
“This is the first Prius I would actually own. Not based on how it looks compared to other Prius’s, but how it looks compared to most cars in general. It’s so good!’ said another.
“Stupid, forcing people to buy imports again,” wrote another disgruntled Aussie.
‘Bewilders the mind. Say this was $55, it’s still $10,000 cheaper than a Model 3 Tesla, maybe more, looks cooler inside and out, Japanese build quality, decent performance that will waste fuel but offers the best of both worlds !’
An article about the new Prius on the car website Drive also attracted many disappointed would-be buyers.
“Toyota Australia has made another mistake, this time by not selling the 2023 Prius,” one wrote.
“They just have no idea what Australian customers actually want, have bad taste and intuition as to what can and can’t be sold, their decision is based purely on the sales metrics.”
“It’s a very bad decision,” said another.
“I would have seriously considered this for a new daily with the 2.0 if they had made it to Australia… damn it,” wrote another.
“As nice as this is, Toyota Australia knows their target market and this wouldn’t sell here. We are the land of SUVs and Dual Cabs.’