Prius Prime Gets 11.6-Inch Touchscreen; Cue More Upscale Hybrids?
The larger screen could see use in future Prius modelsby Jonathan Lopez, on
Last Tuesday, we reported that the new Toyota Prius Prime came equipped with loads of fancy new interior tech, including a new 11.6-inch HD multimedia screen mounted in the center console. We said it looked surprisingly similar to what Tesla was doing with its cabin space, and apparently, the screen might see use on future Prius models. But the real question is this – what’s driving this more premium approach from Toyota, and what will be the end result?
At a recent Prius Prime driving event in Ojai, California, Chief Engineer Koji Toyoshima addressed a question about the screen’s utilization elsewhere in the Toyota line. “We will consider perhaps to share [the larger screen] within the Prius lineup, but we haven’t thought about yet on utilizing it towards other Toyota models,” said Toyoshima-san, speaking through a translator.
Basically, it boils down to this – Toyota is testing the waters with the new Prime. If customers opt into the larger 11.6-inch screen (a 7.0-inch unit comes as standard), I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw it elsewhere in the lineup – including non-Prius models. It’s a trend that could expand very quickly.
The Prime is a perfect test bed for an upscale electrified passenger car from the Japanese automaker. Equipped with better materials and a more comfortable cabin space, this is the model to get if you want to be coddled in a Prius. And of course, there’s that available plus-sized screen.
So what’s driving this upscale approach, and where is it headed? Read on for our take.
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Tesla is often credited with upending the electrified-conveyance market by releasing the Model S – a quick, luxurious, good-looking four-door that relies solely on electricity to get around. Prior to the Model S, most EVs (including hybrids like the Prius) were rather utilitarian – less focus on style and comfort, more focus on miles.
The Model S proved to be a smashing success, and now, the company that invented the first-ever mass-produced gas-electric hybrid is moving towards the premium end of the scale.
The reason? Eco-friendliness is no longer reserved just for hippies. Being green is very much en vogue, and like anything stylish, folks with a little extra spending cash are taking part.
This larger screen on the Prius could be part of a larger trend from Toyota to produce high-mpg hybrids with a penchant for luxury. My guess is the folks in Lexus development will benefit most from sales of the new Prime.
Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime here.
Read our full review on the 2016 Toyota Prius here.