TOKYO -- For years, Toyota Motor Corp. has shortchanged plug-in hybrids by offering just one nameplate in the category, and a slow selling one at that: the Prius PHV.
But Japan's top carmaker says that's about to change, with new plug-in entries in different segments and rapidly rising sales. The diversification could start over the next three years.
Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, dubbed the "Father of the Prius" for his work developing the original flagship hybrid in the 1990s, said Toyota is positioning plug-ins as a "core" technology and sees the cars eclipsing traditional hybrids in sales.
"PHVs need to become more widespread than hybrid cars, because this is going to be our mainstay eco-car for quite some time to come," Uchiyamada said last week at a launch event for the second-generation Prius PHV, which is sold as the Prius Prime in the U.S.
"What comes after hybrids?" he asked. "Toyota's answer is PHVs. This is going to be a core technology."