Toyota has hinted at plans to launch a new iteration of the Toyota Prius, one of its longest-serving models, alongside its first battery-electric cars.
The Toyota Prius was launched in 1997, initially in saloon form, as the first mass-produced hybrid car. Some 24 years later and in its fourth generation, it remains one of the best-selling hybrids worldwide, comparing favourably with its Toyota Camry, Toyota C-HR, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Highlander, Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Yaris siblings, which all use variations of the 'self-charging' hybrid technology it pioneered.
But Toyota has so far remained tight-lipped on the model's future, even as it confirms that hybrid powertrains will continue to play a key role in its electrification strategy over the coming years.
Asked if the Prius is still an important part of Toyota's line-up and whether there will be another generation, product and marketing boss Andrea Carlucci told Autocar: "It remains the pioneer into electrification – and has been clearly, for Toyota, an icon. It started our journey back more than 25 years ago.
"It has to keep a role, and we have to make sure it will always be a front-runner with that kind of technology, so – although I can't disclose much – we don't want to waste our icon, even for the future."
Carlucci hinted at the continued viability of full-hybrid powertrains over the coming years as EV charging infrastructure expands. "When we look at Europe," he said, "we define a region where we might have an acceleration; but globally, as we try to demonstrate the different solutions, we still have a centre of gravity around the hybrid.
"So the Prius remains clearly iconic and stands for what we are: hybrid and a leader in electrification."
The Prius has been on sale in its current form since 2016 and, based on the six-year lifecycles of the previous iterations, is up for renewal in 2022.