Satoshi Ogiso's ambitious vision for the Prius

Automotive News | November 29, 2011 - 10:59 am EST

TOKYO -- Satoshi Ogiso was present at the creation. He was a member of the original five-member development team that formed in 1993 to work on what became the first-generation Toyota Prius.

Just  32 at the time, Ogiso was put in charge of the packaging and layout of the 1997 Prius.

And he's been a Prius man ever since. Ogiso now oversees the full family of Prius models -- the standard Prius hybrid, the new Prius V and Prius C variations and the Prius PHV plug-in hybrid that debuted Monday for the Japanese market.

He is a true believer in hybrids and in his brand. He thinks Toyota will shoot past 1 million hybrid sales in 2015 worldwide -- up from a peak of 690,000 last year, before the earthquake hit -- and keep on chugging to 2 million in 2020.

Half of those hybrids would be cars that carry the Prius badge -- thus one million sales for his brand by the end of the decade. (This by the way is Ogiso's personal glimpse into the future, not Toyota's official forecast.)

Toyota officials say there are no plans for Prius-branded vehicles beyond the four they have now. But can the brand reach a million sales, doubling its current volume, with the current four-car lineup?

"It's a very good question," says Ogiso. "Maybe it's not possible. For this target we should expand by one or two models -- or something."

Would a Prius sports car be among them?

"That is another big theme for the Prius brand management. It is one good item. We don't have any results for that study...but some possibility exists."

Richard Johnson is managing editor of Automotive News.Richard Johnson is managing editor of Automotive News.

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