There is no escaping the fact that strict worldwide emissions regulations are forcing automakers to think really far out of the box with ideas on how to power their vehicles.
The Prius, although officially a Toyota model since 1997, took the world by storm in 2003 when the all new redesigned car got 60mpg city and 51mpg highway. At the time that was pretty much unheard of in the U.S. market. Rising gas prices ramped up the Prius’s popularity and by 2009 over 1million Prius’s had been sold worldwide.
During the Prius’s reign no automakers were able to match the cars sales and over all specifications. Elon Musk, founder of Pay-Pal, was trying to create a vehicle that like the Prius, would be environmentally friendly. Musk wanted to prove to the world that hybrid cars could actually have better performance than gas-powered vehicles.
What was the problem with the Prius? Well just look at it. It’s not exactly the most sexy, sleek vehicle with good performance numbers. This left the Prius to not only being wildly popular, but also wildly laughed at. The car had earned its reputation to be the “nerds” car and carried many other stigmas. If hybrid cars had to be the thing of the future, the Prius would represent a scary, ugly and very slow future for cars.
Also founded in 2003, Musk created the company Tesla; named after the famous inventor Nikola Tesla. Little did anyone know this would be the beginning of the end for the Toyota Prius. In 2008 the first production Tesla hit the streets. The Tesla Roadster was a $100,000 sports car, the polar opposite of the Prius. They shared almost nothing in common and they shouldn’t have anyway. It wasn’t until 2012 that the Prius would meet its match.
In 2012 Tesla unveiled the 4-door Model S. The car was the worlds first fully electric sedan. Getting 265 miles per charge was still pretty different from the Prius’s high gas mileage. There were practically no charging stations on public roads, and most people still didn’t want be paying close to $100,000 for this premium sedan. Toyota had continued success with the Prius but the car had managed to get uglier and uglier throughout the years spawning more and more stigmas.
Fast forward to present day 2015 and the newly released 2016 Toyota Prius may just be one of the worst looking vehicles to come out of the Toyota factory. Tesla, however, is seeing monstrous growth among the Model S. The car not only looks sexy and sleek, but it has sports car performance. In 2012, a Model S could hit 60mph from a standstill in just 5 seconds while the 2012 Prius took 10.5 seconds. Today the highest optioned Model S will do 0-60mph in 2.8 seconds while the highest optioned Prius will hit 60mph in about 10 seconds flat.
The latest Model S still has a hefty price tag of $67,000 while the latest Prius is only $24,200 (early model Prius’s were over $30,000). So how does that huge gap in price mean the death of the Prius model? Well the Model S is soon to have a sibling. Musk has promised a more affordable Tesla in the very near future. Musk wants a car that the average person can afford and still receive the gas saving and technological benefits. That is where the death of the Prius is set to begin.
Toyota feels the threat and knows that Prius has become the bud of many jokes and went for a big redesign for the 2016 model in hopes to boost sales. Toyota was saying that the new Prius would be more streamlined, sleek, sexy and sporty. Well to put it simply, they failed and did so miserably. The car is perhaps the worst looking generation the Prius has seen. Tesla, however, still has the sleek, sexy lines and the performance numbers that could make an environmentalist smile to ear to ear and make a Ferrari owner envious.
So which is the hybrid of the future? Tesla. The Toyota Prius is a dying breed. The once extremely safe, eco-friendly Prius has been out done by the Model S, which has received many awards for being the single safest vehicle on the road today. The technology in the Model S compared to the Prius would be like comparing a flip-phone to an iPhone. The performance differences are like comparing a cheetah to a sloth. Comparing which one is better for the environment would be like comparing a 4 cylinder to V12. Tesla will be the future for those reasons. The Prius has still yet to fully leave gasoline in all of its options. Tesla continues to show that full electric power is easy to access, way more powerful and way more efficient.
Tesla super charging stations have reached an astronomical number not only the United States but worldwide. The death of the Prius will be slow, but as genius Elon Musk continues to shock the world with inventions you can guarantee a more affordable Tesla to be hitting the streets in the very near future. Until that day, Pruis sales will continue since the price is great. If Toyota continues to make ugly Prius’s with outdated and overrated technology than the soon-to-come affordable Tesla will simply take over.