Presentation by Simon Humphries
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Simon Humphries, Senior General Manager of Global Toyota design. Thank you very much for joining us today.
So let’s talk Prius…
You know, with the current focus on BEVs it seems not a day goes by without hearing. “#how long are you going to keep making hybrids for…?”
So today, I’d like to talk about Toyota’s new hybrid car!
But maybe I can give you an insight into the passion behind the next generation Prius,… including an “interesting struggle” between Akio Toyoda, the president, and the development team, about the direction we should take.
The Prius debuted in 1997, and as you well know, its name comes from the Latin word for “pioneer”.
Since the launch of the first-generation Prius, Toyota has sold a total of 20.3 million hybrids globally.
Reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 162 million tons.
Japan has reduced its CO2 emissions by 23% compared to 20 years ago, a high level by international standards.
In North America, Toyota alone has sold more than 5.2 million hybrid vehicles and reduced emissions there by approximately 82 million tons.
However, the Prius’ greatest achievement is not only in those numbers. Rather, that it opened up to a viable alternative to gasoline and diesel.
Since then, hybrid technology has been adopted and developed, not only by Toyota, but by the entire automotive industry. The Prius opened the door to a different way of thinking.
And here in 2022, times have changed. Not a day goes by without talk of the road to carbon neutrality.
But, in addition to hybrids, BEVs are also achieving major technological breakthroughs and solidifying their position as the standard for the future.
As Akio san stated at the BEV event a year ago, “an EV for everyone”, Toyota has embraced BEV as a critical part of our product portfolio.
We have started to introduce a full lineup of exciting electric vehicles, that meet the diverse needs of our global customers together with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell technologies.
But as Akio says, “BEVs are an important solution, but they are not always the best option for everyone. In a diversified world, we need a variety of options”.
However, despite these explanations, we’re still faced with people asking “how long are you going to keep making hybrids for…?”
In the face of this, Akio was adamant that, “The Prius is a model that must be kept”.
Simply because the Prius is an eco-car within everyone’s reach. In order to achieve carbon neutrality, everyone in the world must participate. We need ecological solutions within reach of the many.
And it needs to start today, not tomorrow.
Toyota believes that eco-cars can only contribute to the environment if they are popularized. and from that point of view the Prius is a car for the majority. It is a car to be driven by all people, not just a few. That is its greatest strength, and the reason for its existence.
And the reason the Prius brand should not be lost. Although everyone in the development phase agreed to these goals, the methods to achieving them were hotly debated.
Should the next Prius be focused on becoming a “Commodity” or something to “Love” Akio san proposed that the Prius should evolve toward becoming a true “commodity”.
Why don’t we make the next Prius a taxi? By increasing the number of Prius’ in heavy use, long mileage situations, then the contribuion to the environment increases together with volume.
He also proposed to sell the Prius as an OEM vehicle through other manufacturers, taking the environmental technology of the Prius, which has been cultivated over many years, and not limiting it to just the Toyota group, but rather to take it beyond the boundary of a single manufacturer.
But on our side, we also believed there was another way.
We wanted to make a car that people would choose not only for its rational benefits, but also its emotional experience.
Without a doubt, pursuing rationality, fuel efficiency, and other numerical values, imposes many restrictions, and makes designing the car no easy task. However, we really believed that that the next step for Prius was to become a “car without compromises” in order to increase its appeal to the customer.
A car that is loved, not only for its numbers.
I honestly don’t think Akio thought we would be able to achieve this, given the difficulties we had faced in the past.
But he did not oppose us, On the contrary, he gave us a chance to fight.
saying our team’s choice of love instead of commodification was “interesting”.
When he saw the final design, he said, “That’s cool!”