Prius+ - It's the Prius v that you wanted but can't have

Discussion in 'Prius v Main Forum' started by thbjr, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. GantryG

    GantryG New Member

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    I think that it's the "right thing to do" for Toyota to offer the seven-seat option for the v in the USA, as well, as it can displace many low-efficiency models (vans, SUVs)... assuming that they really care about the environment (like they advertise- I throw down the gauntlet)... opinions?
     
  2. GrumpyCabbie

    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    Is it Toyota or Toyota USA who said your market only wants 5 seats?

    As an outsider I find it interesting that many manufacturers fine tune their products for the American market but shoot themselves in the foot doing so. VW had a reputation for small economical cars (bug & Rabbit in the 1960s/70s) but their offerings today fall short of that - the US version of the Passat is specially made for the US market and is bigger and less economical than the Passat version sold in Europe. Why? Because some US focus group run by VW USA indicated people wanted more space, more power and weren't bothered by economy. But do they sell more cars now? No.

    Another example is Saab. What did they do well in the 1970s/80s? Did they focus on that towards the end under the stewardship of GM? No. Did they sell? No.

    Now if I were in charge......;)
     
  3. Quentin

    Quentin Member

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    A hybrid Sienna is on the way. I didn't even opt for the 3rd row in my 4Runner because it ate up too much cargo space (load floor is ~6" higher when you opt for 3rd row) and the seats were way too tiny to actually be used by adults. I imagine the cargo space suffers in the v w/ the 3rd row as well with a higher load floor. In this picture, the middle row seats are all the way up and the 3rd row space is still really tiny.

    [​IMG]

    And, as others have said, the uptake on the Rav4 was really poor and it actually appears to have a somewhat useful 3rd row seat.

    [​IMG]

    I'd imagine that a hybrid Rav4 is on the way when it is redesigned in the fall. We know it is getting an EV. That seems like a better fit for 3 rows, especially if they offer AWD like the Highlander.
     
  4. GantryG

    GantryG New Member

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    Nice pictures!

    Yeah, I get that the third-row seats are small (though they say that even tall people can use them for a while), and that the RAV4's 3rd row option uptake is small (but few know it exists really), but the fact remains that people like myself want a v with the seven seat option, for kids, or for seating in-a-pinch, and can do without a van or SUV (that get horrid fuel efficiency-even the North America RAV4) if the darn option were just available. Since the Japanese market gets the seven-seat option, and the European market gets the seven-seater only, it's not like the they can't make it happen. There may be regulatory hurdles or costs for testing another configuration, but the Toyota rep said that it was a marketing decision, which is why I call them to do the right thing and give the option (even if they lose a bit of money on it somewhere). They should automatically get more sales for the v if the option were available, just because more people can consider it (those that need six or seven seats in their vehicles). The other marketing reason may be that they make higher margins on the big gas hogs and don't want the v to sell too many (unfounded conspiracy theory).
    I have been waiting on the hybrid Sienna for about five years now- hey maybe that's it- the Sienna is a North America vehicle, and maybe they think that the v would overlap the market for an upcoming hybrid Sienna. Frankly, though, a hybrid Sienna would probably not get anywhere near the v's fuel-efficiency.

    Regarding the impact that the back seats has on the cargo area- here are some pics from the Toyota Japan site:

    5-Seater, row 2 seats up:
    [​IMG]

    7-Seater, row 2 seats up, row 3 seats down:
    [​IMG]

    The difference is about 7%. With the second-row seats down, the total cargo volume difference is only 3%.
    http://toyota.jp/priusalpha/001_p_001/interior/utilities/back/ -(if you use Google Chrome it will ask if you want to translate the page)
     
  5. Flying White Dutchman

    Flying White Dutchman Senior Member

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    so the. US 5 seats got a nimh in the back and the 7 seats version got lithium? in the armrest console?
    really?
     
  6. GantryG

    GantryG New Member

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    Yes- strange but true. In Japan, you can choose either, and it's called the Prius Alpha. This page even shows how the console is different in the seven-seater to accommodate the Li-ion battery pack: toyota.jp ????? ? ????? ? ??????????? ? ?????? - (if you use Google Chrome it will prompt to automatically translate the page for you.)
     
  7. GantryG

    GantryG New Member

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    It was Toyota USA, from what they said. Indeed, these groups can make grave mistakes. Take the recent Prius commercials lately in the US- they make one ashamed to be associated with a Prius; they have been so bad lately. Though not as bad as the Yaris campaign, yikes!
     
  8. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    It's not just the seats. It's seats plus the cost that's the issue. Extra seats requires a more expensive lithium battery.

    The 6-seater Mazda 5 has the small van market to itself. It sells about 2k per month.

    I'm sure Toyota just looked at the market size and decided not to bother.


    Yes.

    Passat (sedan) sales June 2006: 3,960
    Passat sales December 2011: 6,884

    Mid-size in the USA has grown to full-size. The European Passat simply wouldn't cut it any more. Sales of the old Passat gradually fell away.

    The cheap, Mexican-built Jetta and the US-assembled Passat are both doing well for VW in the two toughest segments.
     
  9. Skoorbmax

    Skoorbmax Senior Member

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    I unfortunately suspect Toyota is right that uptake on a third row would be low. The Mazda 5 sells very few units (currently cheapest vehicle with a third row) and I don't think the rav4 sells so many with it, either.

    The reality is that people tend not to use them. A guy told me recently that with his family they never, ever use the rear seats on his Honda Pilot, but it doesn't change their desire to buy a huge vehicle nonetheless.

    I can see a use for a third row in the V, but most people with 3-5 kids will have enough stuff to haul that they will want a larger vehicle, and considering vehicles are so cheap in the US, they can afford that. Most people when they want more capacity just get a larger vehicle instead of going with roof racks, for example. It's a despicably huge waste of money, but that's the culture.
     
  10. Dolce_Vita

    Dolce_Vita Member

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    It's odd that inferior cars are selling better than the superior cars they replaced. Although if VW USA was anything like VW Australia, they probably pushed a premium, 'prestige' and upmarket image too much - yet everyone knows they're just a German Toyota.

    On another note, i don't think Fiats re-engineering of the 500 for the US market was a smart idea. they changed all the right things, especially giving it a real automatic.
     
  11. usbseawolf2000

    usbseawolf2000 HSD PhD

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    Looks like the cup holders and headrests for the 3rd row made all the difference.

    In order to have those seats, the NiMH HV battery was removed and the replacement Li-ion HV battery pack goes in the center console between driver and passenger seat. Lithium is more expensive plus the additional cost for the 3rd row.

    Having said that, I think those looking for Prius v 7 seater are more willing to compromise with the goal to be greener. I think the take rate will be higher if they offer it in the US.
     
  12. lolstebbo

    lolstebbo Junior Member

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    I think it's just the cup holders that makes the difference; the headrests don't seem protruding at all.

    I think the biggest reason they didn't bring the 7-seat option was due to cost and subsequent pricing.
     
  13. GrumpyCabbie

    GrumpyCabbie Senior Member

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    I meant compared to the boom days of the 1970's. Any chance to compare sales figures every 5 years backwards from 2006?
     
  14. GantryG

    GantryG New Member

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    Exactly- I think that in this case is different, because the customers are different.

    I looked at the Mazda 5 for my needs, and it is not the same as a Prius v seven-seater- the Mazda 5 has only six seats, and many people need seven; it's not a Toyota :) ; the Mazda 5 is only slightly more fuel-efficient than a Sienna (as in BAD). I am in the market for a v seven-seater, but not a v five-seater, because I need the occasional seven seats.

    I think that since more people would then look at the v because it can accommodate the number of people that they need to seat, the v would automatically sell more units.

    Indeed, Prius customers are Prius customers because they are willing to pay some more to get the high fuel-efficiency- to be "greener" as it were, even if the better fuel-economy may not pay back the difference at the fairly low price of fuel in the US (~$3.50 per gallon now, as opposed to around ~$8 equivalent in the UK right now).
    The US Mazda 5 is only rated 23mpg(US) on Consumer Report's overall MPG. The Prius v is rated at 42 CR overall MPG! That's a crazy 82% better. If one cares about environmental issues at all, it's irresponsible (all else being equal) to buy the Mazda 5.

    People can say "it's the US culture", "why bother", "it will cost Toyota some more", etc., but Toyota markets the Prius as their contribution to helping the planet, etc. If they really believe that, I think that they should give us the option. The customer would have to pay the difference anyway for the option, and if they are afraid of unsold inventory, make it a special-order option. Let the people decide- then the blood is not on their hands. It may take a bit more work for Toyota USA to field the option, but they would also get to say how crazy-high their fuel-economy is over the other seven-seat options in the US-market, and how much better their value is over those other vehicles. But if they want sales, they have to market it. They can't do like the RAV4 and hide the third-row seat option, then complain that few people buy it. If one looks at the RAV4 on the Toyota.com (USA) website, the third-row seating option is well-hidden, and the RAV4 is not advertised to have that option, so of course uptake is low.

    An option like more seating is an enabler for someone to look at a vehicle at all- if the option is not known, then people that need the capacity aren't looking a the car at all in the first place, and the option will not sell well. People start with a criteria, like "I need a vehicle with six or seven seats. Which vehicles have that?" Then they go by memory or ideas of what vehicles would have that capability. Most would assume that they would only be able to look at vans and extra-large SUVs to get that capability, and never look to a Prius to have that, unless it's advertised. It only needs to a tag like "also available with a third-row seating option, to seat seven!", and show that configuration prominently on the website. If they are afraid of backlash on the smallish size of the back seats, then change it to something like "with a third-row seating option, it can seat seven in a pinch!" or some such.
     
  15. GantryG

    GantryG New Member

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    ... and here's a picture of how the second-row seats tilt forward to allow entry into the third-row seats:

    [​IMG]

    ...and of the bit of room and the below-floor bin behind the third-row seats:

    [​IMG]

    ...and with the third-row seats up and the bin closed:

    [​IMG]

    There's a fair amount of room behind the third-row seats- quite an engineering feat, I think.
     
  16. R-P

    R-P Active Member

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    This one probably has a spare tire. This is not the echo-pit I saw in December :D
    Wish I had known you don't get the 7 seater, I would have taken pics...
     
  17. GantryG

    GantryG New Member

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    I think that you are right- this page on Toyota Japan's site seems to indicate that they have a spare tire kit optional on the seven-seat version, and that the back bin will be smaller when the spare tire is included.
    toyota.jp ????? ? ???? ? ???? ? ??? (Use the Google Chrome browser and it can translate the page automatically...)

    :D
     
  18. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    Well, total sales last year were VW's best since 1972.

    VOLKSWAGEN REPORTS 26.3 PERCENT INCREASE IN 2011 U.S. SALES

    I really think it'd be tough to compare (even if I could find the numbers) given how the market has shifted to larger cars, wagons have changed to vans and cross-overs and the SUV takes a good chunk of the market.

    I guess if you want to compare to the smaller vehicles of previous eras, you could compare to sales of the current Jetta, which were 150,000 last year.
     
  19. M8s

    M8s Retired and Lovin' It

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    So, have they started selling the Prius + in Europe yet? Has anyone got real world experience driving it and using the 3rd row seats?
     
  20. GOOSE MAN

    GOOSE MAN New Member

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    I'm still bummed Toyota didn't offer the 7 seater option, it would be awesome, if Toyota released the 7 Seat Prius later, would ask us owners if were willing to pay the extra cash to upgrade the battery and add the two seats in the back...highly unlikely but just a thought.

    Anyways I wonder if the Soldiers living in Europe bought a Prius + would they be able to bring it back to the states or are they Euro specs?
     
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