Toyota is adding some new tech to the Prius V for 2018. That suggests that while the hybrid MPV is going away from the US market, it still has some life left north of the border. Meanwhile, Ford is axing their own big-hatch hybrid and EV.
Toyota USA confirmed yesterday that the biggest Prius would end US production and phase out after December. It was a victim of Toyota's own success. The Toyota RAV4 hybrid cut Prius V sales in half for 2016, and they've been nearly halved again for 2017. That's despite the Prius V's significantly better 5.8 L/100 km combined versus the 7.3 of the RAV4.
But in Canada, the Prius with space seems to be getting a reprieve. Toyota Canada confirmed that the Prius V is getting Toyota's Safety Sense P as standard for 2018. That adds automatic high beams, lane departure alert and steering, radar cruise control, and pre-collision system. Toyota is also adding a 4.2-inch colour display and a rear seatbelt indicator. That's not something you do if you're planning on dropping the model in a month.
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So why is the V continuing in Canada? Here, it continues to sell well. It has even beat its smaller sibling, the regular Prius, in sales for three of the past four years. Toyota USA said that the V would continue in other, non-US markets, so if it's going to be sold in other left-hand drive countries, and it sells well here, it makes sense to keep it going.
Toyota Canada is making an announcement about the Prius V later this week, where we expect them to confirm that the V will live on.
It was shaping up to be a bad month for hybrid people carriers. Ford recently confirmed that their own electrified hatch, the C-Max Energi, has already ended production. The hybrid version of the C-Max will continue until mid-next year but is expected to be discontinued after that. That's because the factory that makes them is being changed from C-Max and Focus production to Ranger pickup and Bronco SUV. Ford had previously confirmed the Focus was moving to China but had been silent on the C-Max.
So what is Ford's plan to replace the C-Max? They aren't abandoning electrification. Ford's Team Edison was announced earlier this year, with a plan to "create compelling battery-electric vehicles for customers around the world." So we know EVs are on the way. Ford is also cutting internal combustion capital spending by a third, and moving that to electrification.
Electrification means EVs, but it also means hybrids. In this case, Ford appears to be borrowing a page from Toyota's own RAV4 successes. Automotive News reports that a source familiar with Ford's product plans says that Ford will be bringing a plug-in Escape Hybrid to market in 2019. That will be joined by hybrid Expeditions and the Lincoln MKC and Navigator models. In some circular product planning, the C-Max replaced the first and second generation Escape hybrids in 2013.