Toyota to Change Prius Design to Increase Sales image

Toyota is considering whether to change the aerodynamic wedge-shape of the Prius as the company plans to bring a next-generation car to increase demand.

“There’s an undercurrent among most people that they’re ready for a new Prius look, ” said Chris Hostetter, Toyota’s U.S. group vice president for strategic planning. “Maybe our architecture has been a little bit similar for the last two generations.”

The automaker hasn’t chosen yet the design for the new Prius, but Hostetter said that the plan is to ‘really evolve’ the model, adding that the replacement for the current hatchback Prius will go on sale at the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014. This year the Prius managed to reach global record sales, whith it best-selling markets being California and Japan.

Toyota’s full-year profit target has been raised today due to increasing demand for the Prius in the US and Japan, making up for the slumping sales in China. Analysts expect the year ending March 2013 to reach a profit of 780 billion yen ($9.7 billion), which would be a five-year high, surpassing the previous target of 760 billion yen.

“Up to now the shape they’ve had was perfect for that product; it was distinctive and said, ‘This is a hybrid vehicle,’” said analyst John Wolkonowicz. “But it also appealed to only a certain type of buyer. It’s time to move to a broader market.”