For the past 25 years or so the Toyota Prius has been called many things; revolutionary, a dog turd, a rotten little egg on wheels, and most notably a success. Because if you start to count them you’ll soon run out of fingers. The Toyota Prius is everywhere, because somehow Toyota has managed to convince millions of soccer moms and celebrities that their little egg shaped car is a worthy purchase.
Introduced back in the Winter of 1997 the Prius was hailed as a new car for the 21st century, and this made sense because the Prius was the first "real" hybrid car. I say this because before that battery technology was nowhere near good enough to provide a reasonable hybrid solution, and Toyota were the first ones to create a feasible product.
However, the times they are a changing, because, back in 2019, Toyota sold just under 70,000 Priuses in the United States. A rather significant drop of 20% from 2018's numbers. However, that pales in comparison when compared to the Prius' peak in 2012, where in 2019 Toyota sold 70% less Priuses. This is a simply astonishing drop in sales, and shows shifting buyer trends as more attractive options come onto the market.
Over the past 10 years we have seen more and more hybrids and electric vehicles come onto the market. With new offerings like the Tesla Model 3 and most notably Toyota's own RAV4 Hybrid the, Prius is facing vastly increased competition.
Interestingly, Toyota's overall hybrid sales soared by nearly 30% in 2019 alone, showing that the Prius and not hybrids are the problem. On top of that the Prius is no longer revolutionary, far from it in fact. Most manufacturers including Toyota now offer hybrid variants along their entire product line. Furthermore, at its peak the Prius was seen as cool and environmentally conscious with celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio driving them around.
However, as the cool factor washes off and the technology becomes less and less relevant the Prius seems like more and more of a dying elephant.