The prospect is raised of a new design language taking the Prius' streamlined shape and combining it with more free-form angles and body panel lines - producing a greater high-tech look.
With sales having surpassed the 1,000,000 unit mark for total hybrids sold worldwide, Toyota can happily lay claim to producing the most highly-shifted hybrid range. Although while marketing for the Prius has been unspeakably successful amid raised consumer environmental awareness, other members of Toyota's green range have suffered.
In America this year to date, the Prius has outsold the hybrid model Camry by three to one, selling some 140,000 units compared to the Camry's 40,000. A hybrid version of Toyota's Highlander 4x4 arrives in showrooms this month, but with ever-increasing hybrid editions, the need for a unified design direction is clear.
Faced with such a problem, having declared their intention to introduce a number of all-new hybrid models to the market nearer 2010, Toyota Chief Designer Wahei Hirai lays out his intentions in an interview with Automotive News.
"People like to buy [into hybrids] because they like to advertise 'I am interested in the environment.' So currently the Camry doesn't appeal very much," Hirai says. "They prefer Prius because, while they are driving in town, people can understand that the driver has more social awareness." The idea is to give hybrid buyers something aesthetically worthier of this statement over a conventional gas model.
The prospect is raised of a new design language taking the Prius' streamlined shape and combining it with more free-form angles and body panel lines - producing a greater high-tech look. Such styling is already seen on the iQ subcompact and FT-HS concept cars. Tokyo's 1/X Concept (shown above) could preview the next Prius or even a smaller hybrid to slot below the present-day model, boasting the streamlined form of the Prius but with the free-form geometrics of a potential new styling language.
Toyota already have a 'design hypothesis on how they see their hybrid designs taking shape, but the firm "need[s] to find out whether it is well-accepted in the market," says Hirai. "We'd like to use that kind of design language in each hybrid car."
Stay with us for further information on this future hybrid design language, and keep up to date with all our other green news.