Toyota is already working on the sixth and seventh-generation Prius.
Toyota has released the latest Prius, and it's a revelation. Not only is it an attractive little car, but it's got a surprising amount of performance. As a hybrid, does the famous nameplate stand a chance in the looming electric era? Most certainly, according to the father of the Prius, Takeshi Uchiyamada.
In an interview with Automotive News, Uchiyamada said he believes the Prius will stick around for much longer. Hybrid vehicles are expected to be a part of Toyota's lineup until 2050, explains the Toyota Chairman. By then, the company hopes to use internal combustion engines that run on hydrogen or synthetic e-fuels.
While he no longer serves as an engineer, Uchiyamada says he's already giving guidance on the future Prius models, even though the sixth generation isn't slated to arrive until 2030. "If I say something about the Prius, then everyone thinks they have to listen to me. So I say nothing. Once it starts taking shape, I stay out," he explained.
The oh-so-humble chairman added that he helps design teams to set the foundation and put targets in place but leaves the younger engineers to develop the finer details. In fact, he's provided Prius engineering teams with input on all the previous generations, as well as the latest model.
Now a Chairman of the Toyota Corporation, Uchiyamada was the chief engineer of the original Prius that debuted in 1997. Divisive styling aside, there's no denying it made a massive impact on the motoring industry and showed the world a path to cleaner motoring.
As you'd expect, the Prius name holds a special place in his heart. Uchiyamada says he has no attachment to the technology and would be happy to see the Prius become an all-electric or a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. "I just want the Prius to continue. It's like the name of your child."
"For us and our customers, as long as hybrid technologies exist, the Prius is very symbolic," he added.
So, what does Uchiyamada think of the latest iteration? Uchiyamada says it's the best-looking Prius ever - it might even be the most stylish Toyota currently on sale. He likes it so much that he's decided to purchase one as his personal car. It's not his favorite model, though. That will always be the quirky first-generation model.
"The first baby," he said, "is the cutest one."
While Toyota was a trailblazer in hybrid technology, it has fallen behind in the electrification race. The company has faced criticism for being slow to adopt EVs, but it believes in taking a more measured approach. Toyota's Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda previously explained the company has a duty to offer a wide variety of vehicles to consumers.