Could it go all-electric?
The current fourth-generation Toyota Prius dates back to the 2016 model year and received a facelift for 2019. The now 20-year-old nameplate broke new ground as the first-ever mainstream hybrid vehicle, but today hybrids are nothing special. They're now part of mainstream automakers' lineups and are quickly being replaced by plug-in hybrids and battery electrics. So this begs the question: is there even a need for a fifth-generation Prius? Apparently so.
Japan's Mag-X claims the Japanese automaker is developing the next-generation Prius. No specific launch date is known at this time and we also don't know for how long this new Prius has been in the works.
However, the report indicates the new Prius will likely continue to ride on the TNGA-C platform, though it's expected to be updated in numerous ways. In general, the fifth-gen Prius is expected to be more aggressive in both design and packaging. Now, the Prius has never exactly been a sexy-looking vehicle, but this could change. Just look at the gorgeous second-generation Toyota Mirai. It couldn't be more different looking than its awkward predecessor.
But the ultimate question is whether or not the next Prius will adopt an all-electric powertrain. Chances are, this will be an option while a PHEV powertrain could become the default offering. In other words, the standard hybrid setup could be a goner.
Doing so would make sense in order to keep the Prius relevant. Today's Prius is already facing internal competition from the Corolla Hybrid, which uses the same platform and hybrid system. It's doubtful Toyota will outright admit it, but the Corolla Hybrid is simply the better all-around vehicle. We might have also recently caught a glimpse as to what Toyota has in mind design-wise with the radical-looking Toyota LQ electric concept that was shown at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.
Aside from its bold design, the LQ was also equipped with Level 4 autonomous driving technology and an automated valet parking function. Assuming Toyota proceeds with its new Prius plans, we'll probably start seeing some prototypes on the road later this year.