In early 2011, as Toyota was set to spread the Prius name to the subcompact C, the V station wagon and a plug-in hybrid, the automaker issued a bold prediction: the Prius family of vehicles would be Toyota's best-selling nameplate in the U.S. by the end of the decade.
To do that, the Prius would need to usurp the Camry and its gargantuan sales volumes, as well as fellow heavyweights Corolla and RAV4. It was a good time to make such a bet. Gasoline prices had been climbing steadily since 2008 and the Prius name was steeped in loyalty and reputation as the industry's go-to vehicle for fuel thriftiness.
Five years later, things have changed.
The Prius family has nearly a million total U.S. sales to its credit since 2011, but the Camry, Corolla and RAV4 each outsells everything with a Prius badge by hundreds of thousands of vehicles annually. Even the Tacoma pickup came within a few thousand of the Prius family in 2015.
This has Toyota executives readjusting their Prius expectations for the rest of the decade. The futures of the next-generation C and V in the U.S. are undecided, particularly the V, which they say could be replaced by the new RAV4 Hybrid.
But Toyota has no regrets on bringing the C and V to the U.S. under the Prius banner -- the only market where the automaker did so.