Baby Of The Family Will Play A Big Role Toyota's new 2012 Prius C doesn't look like a math problem, but that's what it is. Hidden behind its attractive hatchback body and Toyota Synergy Drive hybrid powertrain, the Prius C is just a bunch of numbers. Numbers like the car's miles per gallon rating, its MSRP, how many can be produced and how many Toyota hopes to sell. Toyota ran these numbers through its "Do we build it?" formula, which is what caused the Prius C to come into being, but the good news is that this smallest of Prii adds up to more than what was put into it, and even introduces a bit of fun to the appliance-like Prius driving experience. Not much, mind you, but enough that its target audience – young people who want to buy the most efficient gas-powered vehicle on the market today – should take notice. Here are some of the calculations that Toyota is making for its new Prius family. Instead of selling 136,463 "normal" Prius Liftbacks as it did last year (down from 140,928 in 2010), the Japanese automaker believes that three new models – the bigger V, the smaller C and the Plug-In version – will push cumulative Prius sales up to 220,000 in 2012 and then go up from there. Last year, Toyota's group vice president for U.S. sales, Bob Carter, said he expects the Prius to be the automaker's number one nameplate by 2020. Sure, the Prius continues to sell well in green car circles and has been the best selling car in Japan for a year and a half, but for Carter's statement to come true, the Prius family would have to outsell the almighty Camry. Think about that. Think about the ambition – and challenge – behind those words. This is the equation that the Prius C needs to solve. Toyota is confident that it's cracked the hybrid sales code: Offer more models. During the recent launch event for the Prius C in San Diego, CA, representatives told Autoblog that they don't expect that the bigger or smaller Priuses will much affect sales of the Goldilocks standard model, now known as the Liftback, so their obvious challenge is to create more demand for the new versions of the world's most popular hybrid. The V does that with more storage (read: family) space. The C does it with its shifter. Settling behind the wheel, the Prius C is, unquestionably, a Prius. There's the push-button starter, the slight delay in calling up the "Ready" light and the now-expected silence when the hybrid is on. But when you put the car into Drive, you notice that the C feels like something other than a Prius: There's an honest-to-god PRNDL shifter. All other Prius models do away with this relic of a simpler powertrain age in favor of that little flick knob thing where you just tap it into D or R or whatever. Since shifting in the C, like …
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