TOKYO -- As Toyota Motor Corp. grows its hybrid lineup, it faces a marketing question: how to handle the popular Prius brand.
Executives say the subline of Prius-badged vehicles will have reached its limit once the plug-in version and the Prius C subcompact are launched next spring, joining the regular Prius and the Prius V wagon.
Satoshi Ogiso, chief engineer for the Prius family, warns not to expect another Prius sibling in the next couple of years. But he adds that his team is weighing whether future electric cars or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles should be brought under the Prius umbrella.
"If we expand it too much, it might hurt the strength of the Prius brand itself," Ogiso said.
By 2020, the Prius family should account for half of Toyota's hybrid sales globally, down from about 70 percent today, Ogiso predicted.
To date, Priuses are small, dedicated hybrids characterized by a streamlined nose and curved roofline.
While a new Prius model could cannibalize another's sales, Ogiso is not worried because the overall hybrid market will be growing.
"I'm not concerned," Ogiso said. "My vision is clear. Hybrids are expanding rapidly."