The Toyota Prius was first launched in the market back in 1997 as a full hybrid electric vehicle and offered in the 4-door sedan body style. However, post-2003, the car has been manufactured and sold only in the 4-door liftback shape. The Prius has been lauded in international markets for its environment-friendly emissions and also for delivering impressive fuel efficiency.
The very first Prius vehicles were sold in Japan, and shortly afterward the model was made available around the world in the year 2000. As of now, it is available in more than 90 markets. In the Australian market, the Prius became available in 2001, and since then it has held a considerable share in the hybrid cars category. By 2017, the total global sales of the Prius exceeded 4 million vehicles.
Since 2011, two more variants of the Prius have also been sold, including the Prius V and the Prius C, the former being an extended hatchback while the latter is a subcompact hatchback. Toyota also launched a plug-in variant in 2012, later called the Prius Prime as it entered its second generation of production.
The First Generation Prius (1997-2003)
The very first model of the Prius was called NHW10, and it was available only in the Japanese market, although private customers around the world did import the vehicle. It was the first time that a hybrid car was being mass-produced. Production of the NHW10 concluded in the year 2000 after having manufactured over 37,000 units.
Between the years 2000 and 2003, Toyota built the NHW11, the next model in the Prius model. This model was offered in the global market and found its place somewhere between two other cars sold by Toyota: Corolla, which was smaller than the Prius, and the larger Camry.
It was not until October of 2001 that this model was offered in the Australian market. Only the Hybrid trim was offered, which was a 4-door sedan running on a 1.5L petrol-electric engine capable of delivering 53 kW of power and 115 Nm of torque and running on CVT auto transmission. In 2003, Toyota also began offering the 5-door hatchback in Australia with two trims: Hybrid and i-Tech Hybrid. Both the hatchback Hybrid and i-Tech Hybrid trims had a slightly more powerful 1.4L engine capable of delivering 57 kW of power and 115 Nm of torque, and ran on CVT auto transmission, just like the sedan hybrid trim.
The Second Generation Prius (2003-2009)
Toyota called the next upgraded Prius model the NHW20 and gave the car a complete makeover. The liftback became more compact in its exterior, while still managing to increase legroom for the rear passengers and offering more cargo space. It also became more environment-friendly. It was the first time that a vehicle came with an A/C compressor that was fully electric. However, this model failed to sell, and so did its predecessors, mostly due to its high price tag.
In Australia, Toyota dropped the sedan trim in 2004 and continued selling the hatchback trims made available in 2003 till the launch of the next generation in 2009.
The Third Generation Prius (2009-2015)
Toyota internationally launched the next model for the Prius in 2009. Since Toyota recognized an increasing competition from vehicles like the Honda Insight, the new Prius was priced at a lower threshold compared to the trend witnessed in the previous Prius models.
The new model came with new features, such as three different modes, to wit:
- an electric-only option (for low-speeds only)
- an Eco mode to provide the best fuel efficiency as possible with the vehicle
- a Power mode that used more fuel but delivered the maximum power as per the engine's capacity
The body of the new Prius also carried a smaller drag coefficient compared to previous models, making it more aerodynamic.
The 2009 Prius models available in Australia came in the same two hatchback trims as were already available in the market the previous year, albeit with major upgrades. The engine was now a 1.8L Hybrid paired with a CVT, capable of delivering a maximum power of 73 kW and 142 Nm of torque.
The Fourth Generation Prius (2015-Present)
Toyota introduced the fourth generation of the Prius towards the end of 2015, although it was launched in most of its international markets by the start of 2016. This was also the first time that the Prius had been manufactured using TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) modular platform, a design that promised to lower the vehicle's centre of gravity as well as to increase the rigidity of its structure.
The new models have also been made available in Australia. However, the trims and their engine specifications have remained constant since the third generation of the Prius.
If you have a Prius that needs some parts replaced, check out our sellers and the car parts and accessories listed on our website. We operate Australia-wide, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for sellers nearest to you. Find out more about us now!
By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)