• Feb 26, 2008

Last month, we brought you the words of Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe who announced that at next year's NAIAS in Detroit, his company would be unveiling a pair of dedicated hybrid models: a replacement for the lamentably iconic current Toyota Prius, and a dedicated luxury hybrid from Lexus. The latter would be the first standalone hybrid model from the luxury brand, which until now has made a name for itself producing gasoline/electric versions of its standard models.

Emerging reports now suggest that the Lexus hybrid Watanabe-san alluded to in Detroit will actually be a rebadged luxury version of the next-gen Prius, taking on a "lifestyle wagon" design based on the more basic Toyota. While the notion of a lightweight Prius being laden down with Lexus-grade luxury equipment may seem at odds, somehow we doubt the Hollywood crowd will be bothered.

[Source: Motor Trend]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      When he says "Lamentably iconic," he may be referring to the fact that to many, the prius has the good looks of a Pontiac Aztek. And people get sick of hearing about Julia Roberts, and other celebrities driving a prius, somehow making her a better person....except she probably lives in a castle that requires a boat load of fossil fuels to heat and cool.

      Based on its technology, its a neat car, one cannot deny that, but the southpark episode "smug" has some truth to it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It would seem that a Lexus variant of the Venza (terrible name, nice car) could be sold as a "Hybrid Only" vehicle.
      • 6 Years Ago
      A Lexus series-hybrid will raise smug(not a typo) levels to dangerous levels. It must be stopped!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Fully loaded Priuses are near 30k, which makes this more interesting as I suspect the Lexus will cross into the mid 30s...

      right into VOLT territory. Should be an interesting match.
      • 6 Years Ago
      many manufacturers have done it, but I think with GM showing the Tahoe, Yukan, escalade the canges were so minor - I mean the interior was exactly the same in all therr (except for seat material)

      Others like Toyonda use the same chasis adn structure but give unique body panels and a unique interior adn unless you're into cars, you would not know they share the same underpinings - you see you need to keep the consumer blind, like our gov't does
        • 6 Years Ago
        Nobody is saying that slapping a Lexus badge on the Prius is "keeping the customer blind." Platform sharing is common in more industries than just automobiles.

        The issue here is the hypocrisy of selling a vehicle which has as a fundamental goal fuel economy when that same vehicle is larded down with luxury. Lexus will sell plenty of these, I have no doubt - but how many will be sold to people like Laurie David, who wants Bob Lutz to be fired because of his skepticism regarding Global Climate Change. Naturally, Ms. David owns a private jet, which she uses to travel between her homes on both coasts.

        I'm glad hybrid technology has been successful, but I lament the trend to move the vehicles upmarket, when they would be more effective if they were more affordable to a larger demographic.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Cadillac Cimarron
      • 6 Years Ago
      Arguably, Toyota is better at 'badge-engineering' than anyone. Every manufacturer does it, but none better than Toyota.

      They are able to take platforms (the Camry, for example) and make many derivatives that actually are pretty unique and serve its target audiences pretty well.

      Are all of them hits? No. Arguably Lexus has been most successful on products that we created specifically for that channel--the LS, the IS.

      The idea of a premium Prius makes a lot of sense. If you get a fully equipped Prius, it is already over $28,000. Add some bells and whistles to make it TRULY luxurious, you could probably sell 40-50,000 units.

      Of course, it won't look like a Prius, but because it shares the same platform, many of the hardpoints are there.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Badge engineering is not the same as platform sharing:
        * Would you consider the Altima, Maxima and Murano badge engineered?
        * What about the Mazda6, Fusion, Edge, CX-7 and CX-9?
        * What about the 9-3 and Malibu?
        * What about the Civic and CR-V?
        * The Echo and gen-1 xB?

        No, they share a common base architecture and, usually, powertrain, but they're quite different, both mechanically and cosmetically. A badge-engineered example (very little fundamental differences) would be, say, Cobalt/G5 or Fusion/Milan.

        Toyota doesn't really badge-engineer as much as people accuse them of. The Camry/ES (in the last two generations) and the LX/Land Cruiser are the only really egregious examples. Everything is actually fairly well differentiated.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Isn't it a good idea to have a few cars that look differently but share the platform?

        Look at BMW, they use the opposite idea. Inside they are different ( for example, 328 and M3), but there are only subtle differences in the exterior. They utilize the same design, kind of boring.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Anyone can start a RUMOR! The next gen Prius will not share a platform with the new Lexus Hybrid!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've met a few Prius drivers and they're by and large normal people who bought a car that suited their needs and lifestyle, which is exactly the same choice that any car buyer makes. I think a lot of people have a huge chip on their collective shoulder about Toyota's overdog status and the co-opting of automobile industry by the green movement. It's like there's some latent jealousy about how "their" hobby has been hijacked by people whom they don't want to like, and they need to find a reason to dislike and discredit them even more.

      There is a faction of Prius owners that post on this site that seem to have a Micheal Moore complex. They have the opinion that anyone who doesn't think and drive as they do is a pure fool or idiot. Its a little tiring to read again and again about the horrible SUV drivers and bla bla about people who commute in pickup trucks. Whatever, the Prius is primarly a lifestyle choice and the real overall efficency of the car is still in question. If you choose that lifestyle, fine. If you want to drive a rolling pocket protector, fine. If you take the hype at face value, fine. Fanboy arrogence is not limited to domestic brands.
      • 6 Years Ago
      How well designed this is depends a lot on how it's targeted. If Toyota uses this as a chance to go full-gonzo on weight saving--a Prius with aluminum and carbon fibre everywhere--and charges a premium for materials, then this could make sense.

      If they go the LS600h route, well, you have to wonder why. I like the LS600h, and in high gridlock areas (ie, most of urban Japan), it's actually a pretty smart choice as a chauffeured sedan--moreso than it's competitors that lack idle-stop and regen braking. For a more balanced cycle and for use by more normal lifestyles, it's not as wise a choice as, say, an Prius, Highlander Hybrid or RX400h.
      • 6 Years Ago
      it's this just precious news!!

      all the Japanese fanboys are always so quick to point out how terrrible badge-engineering is on the lowly domestics, and should be stopped.

      will this be a bad thing for the Prius-in-a-party-dress, or will it be seen as a "brilliant move" by the smartest darn car manufacturer in the world?

      AZMike
        • 6 Years Ago
        Can't remember the last time I saw anyone credible saying it should be stopped that was a "japanese fanboy." Got a link? Because, I mean, Lexus has been badge engineering for quite some time, if not since their very beginnings.
        • 6 Years Ago
        R,

        there have probably been hundreds of threads about this subject in the past year. whenever a topic concerning domestics comes up, like the Tahoe/Yukon, Crown Vic/Mercury Marquis, Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan, etc., all the fans of imports tell us how stupid this is; badge-engineering doesn't work, signs of despiration, etc.

        believe me, I'm far from disagreeing with you. I'm well-aware that the Japanese would be nowhere without it. it's just that the Japanese fanboys never seem to see the parallels.

        it's this very basic formula: domestics=bad; if imports do it=brilliant, original, well-thought-out, forward thinking.

        AZMike
        • 6 Years Ago
        Having tons of divisions that overlap in customer base selling the exact same car under 3 different names is the problem, not badge engineering itself. It's perfectly fine for Cadillacs to share the same platform as a Chevy.

        The problem is when GM has to split their ad budget 3/4 ways because the exact same car is a Pontiac and a Chevy and an Oldsmobile and a Buick...and a Saturn. At least there's no Oldsmobile now, lol.

        Honda badge engineers with Acura and Lexus, although they at least keep it unique for the US nowadays (even though the TSX is just a Euro accord at least there's no Euro accord in the honda division).

        If you make the cars different enough it's not a big deal is my point. It's just a waste of advertising money though if you have to run 3 separate ad campaigns instead of a massive campaign for one brand.

        I really think GM needs to merge the Chevy and Pontiac brands. Buick I'm not sure sure about because a low-end Cadillac would likely have more appeal for buyers who aren't 65+, even though I like the Lucerne, it's really not enough to justify keeping an entire brand.
      • 6 Years Ago
      * You will be happy to know that only the paint job on every Lexus is an Xtra 7 point process that brings the total vehicle build time to almost double!
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