Report: Design Hang-Ups Delayed Next Toyota Prius Launch
Following an earlier report that the next Toyota Prius would be delayed until December 2015, we're now learning that the postponement is in part due to design issues. Automotive News reports that when the design for the new Toyota Prius crossed the table at a company executive meeting, both president Akio Toyota and executive vice president Mitsuhisa Kato told the car's chief designer to go back to the drawing board.
"The design redo was instructed by myself, and the president said the same thing," Kato told AN. "We substantially refined the design, and we have finally reached a level where we can offer it next year."
While the Toyota Prius remains one of the brand's most iconic and best-selling vehicles in the last decade, the Japanese automaker is driven to address criticism of lackluster design and bland character. The word is that the Prius' styling will take cues from the edgy Toyota C-HR concept, although we'll see greater differentiation than before between the standard Prius hybrid and the plug-in variant (code-named 690A and 680A, respectively). Cabin space is set to increase, but the oft-lamented split rear window will likely remain because of its aerodynamic advantages.
Riding on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the next Toyota Prius is said to be 20 percent lighter. It will also utilize a more thermally-efficient engine and possibly lithium-ion batteries which will increase fuel economy by 10 percent.
Although the delay from early 2015 to December 2015 is likely the result of fine-tuning as well, the focus on design for the next Toyota Prius has raised our expectations. Under the guiding hand of global design chief Tokuo Fukuichi, the next Toyota Prius has the potential to take some serious design risks. Both Toyota and Lexus have made major leaps in design, for better or for worse, at the auto show rounds this year, and we're betting it isn't concept-car fluff to be left on the cutting room floor.