The Toyota Prius c (c stands for “city”), named the Toyota Aqua in Japan, is a full hybrid gasoline-electric subcompact hatchback manufactured and marketed by Toyota Motor Corporation. The Prius c is the third member of the Prius family, and combines the features of a Yaris-sized car with a hybrid powertrain. The Prius c is priced lower than the conventional Prius and has a higher fuel economy in city driving under United States Environmental Protection Agency test cycles. The Prius c is ranked by the EPA as the 2012 most fuel efficient compact car when plug-in electric vehicles are excluded.
The production version of the Aqua was unveiled in the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. The production Prius c was introduced in the U.S. at the January 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Aqua was launched in Japan in December 2011 at a price of ¥1.69 million (US$21,700). Sales in several Asian markets began in January 2012. The Prius c was released in the U.S. and Canada in March 2012. Sales in Australia and New Zealand began in April 2012.
The Aqua is considered the most successful nameplate launch in Japan in the last 20 years. As of July 2015, the Aqua/Prius c is the second most sold hybrid of Toyota Motor Corporation after the regular Prius, with 1,081,332 units sold worldwide, and Japan is the market leader with 901,465 units sold. For two consecutive years, 2013 and 2014, the Aqua was the top selling new car in Japan.
Prius c Concept
The Toyota Prius c concept car was unveiled at the January 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Toyota explained that the ‘c’ in ‘Prius c’ stands for “city”-centric vehicle as it is much smaller than the normal Prius and is aimed at younger buyers without families who don’t need lots of space.
Together with the introduction of the production version of the Toyota Aqua at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, the carmaker also exhibited two other Aqua concepts, the Aqua Kiriri version and the Aqua Piriri.
Hybrid Synergy Drive of Toyota Aqua (Prius c)
Built on an enhanced and streamlined Yaris-inspired platform, the Prius c features Toyota’s Generation 3 Hybrid Synergy Drive with a 1.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder, 16–valve with VVT-i gasoline engine, the same engine model and displacement as on the earliest Priuses, but now “beltless”, with all accessory drives replaced by electric motors which operate whether the engine is running or not.
Unlike earlier Prius HSDs, the Prius c incorporates separate planetary gear reduction paths for the ICE/MG1 (internal combustion engine/motor-generator one, this path familiarly referred to as the “power split device”, with the MG1 doing double duty as the ICE starter and a battery charging alternator; HV to charge the HV battery, HV through a dc-dc converter to charge the LV battery), and the MG2 (motor-generator two, this path newly referred to as the “motor speed reduction device”, with the MG2 doing double duty as the traction (propulsion) motor and the HV battery regenerative charging alternator), thereby allowing higher electric-only performance (this is limited mainly by the MG1-to-final-drive ratio, and, of course, the capacity of the MG1), and higher hybrid performance (this is limited mainly by the MG2-to-final-drive ratio, and, of course, the capacity of the MG2), with the gear ratios, hence the rotational speeds of the MG1 and MG2, now better matched to their respective mission functions, in a significantly smaller, lighter weight package. The chain drive found in the Gen 1 and Gen 2 HSDs is also eliminated, replaced by helical gears in the Gen 3 HSD. The Prius v and Prius Plug-in share this basic Gen 3 design (P410 transaxle, for both of these), but not its specific implementation, and which is unique to the Prius c and its lower maximum weight, and lower HSD net horsepower (P510 transaxle, for Prius c, North America; Prius Aqua, Japan; and Yaris Hybrid, Europe).
The hybrid system includes a new high-voltage battery and inverter, and a smaller auxiliary 12 volt battery. Both batteries are housed underneath the rear passenger bench seat, and are easily accessible to service personnel, yet are protected from possible collision damage by a welded tubular steel cage which also acts as support for the rear seat. Being housed underneath the passenger seat, the large high voltage traction battery does not impact the trunk space, unlike the traction battery on earlier Priuses. This location for the traction battery also significantly lowers the center of gravity of the Prius c, and improves road handling.
The hybrid powertrain weighs around 40 kg (88 lb) less than that of the standard Prius Liftback. The 1NZ-FXE engine produces 54 kW (73 hp) and the HSD motor is rated at 45 kW (60 hp). Total output is rated at 74 kW (99 hp).
The body of the Prius c is smaller than the traditional Prius, with a wheelbase of 2,550 mm (100.4 in) it is 150 mm (5.9 in) narrower between the axles, and with an overall length of 4,000 mm (157.3 in) the Prius c is 490 mm (19.1 in) shorter than the standard Prius Liftback. This places the Prius c in the American subcompact class.
Fuel economy and emissions
Toyota estimates the fuel economy 35 km/L (82 mpg-US) (2.86 L/100 km) on the official JC08 Japanese test cycles and 40 km/L (94 mpg-US) (2.5 L/100 km) under the 10–15 test cycle. Under the United States Environmental Protection Agency test cycles, the Prius c is rated at 53 mpg-US (4.4 L/100 km; 64 mpg-imp) city and 46 mpg-US (5.1 L/100 km; 55 mpg-imp) highway, for a combined fuel economy of 50 mpg-US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp), the same as the conventional Prius but better in city driving. The Prius c emission certification is SULEV.
The Prius c is ranked by the EPA as the 2012 model year most fuel efficient compact car excluding plug-in electric vehicles. When electric-powered cars are considered, the Chevrolet Volt ranks on top of the compact car category, followed by the Prius c.
The Prius c is assembled at the Iwate Plant of Toyota Motor East Japan, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, in Kanegasaki, Iwate in northern Japan. Toyota’s initial production capacity for the Aqua/Prius c at this facility was 12,000 units per month, with a maximum production capacity of 30,000 units per month.
The decision to manufacture at Toyota Motor East Japan (formerly Kanto Auto Works) was motivated by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami – Toyota is making a valuable economic contribution to the region in providing jobs and development associated with production.
A facelifted version was presented at the November 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The new model has a revised front bumper and headlights, with a more aggressive and aerodynamic look. The taillights are also modified, now incorporating black plastic segments towards the leading edge. The interior features metallic HVAC vents, as well as a redesigned climate control cluster.
Markets and sales
During 2012 a total of 315,406 units were sold worldwide, led by Japan with 266,574 Aquas sold, representing 84.5% of the model global sales. The Prius c is not available in Europe, instead, Toyota is selling the Toyota Yaris Hybrid since June 2012. The Yaris Hybrid shares the same powertrain as the Prius c. Global sales of the Aqua/Prius c passed the 500,000 milestone in August 2013.As of July 2015, the Aqua/Prius c is the second most sold hybrid of Toyota Motor Corporation after the regular Prius, with 1,081,332 units sold worldwide. The market leader is Japan with 901,465 units sold, capturing a 83.4% of global sales. Ranking second is the U.S. with 140,720 units (13.0%), and Canada with 10,183 (0.9%). A total of 28,964 units have been sold in the rest of the world through July 2015. For two consecutive years, 2013 and 2014, the Aqua was the top selling new car in Japan. The Aqua is considered the most successful nameplate launch in Japan in the last 20 years.
The Aqua was launched in Japan in December 2011 at a price of ¥1.69 million (US$21,700), and is available at all Japanese Toyota networks Toyota Store, Toyopet Store, Corolla Store and Toyota Netz. Toyota initially established a sales target of 12,000 units per month, but before its market launch, Toyota had received orders for 60,000 Aquas, creating a four-month waiting list for deliveries. By January 31, 2012, the number of orders grew to 120,000. The Aqua was the third top selling new car in the Japanese market in February and March 2012, and ranked second from April through September, surpassed only by the combined sales of the regular Prius and Prius α, as Toyota is reporting sales of both models together. The Aqua ranked as the top selling new car in Japan in October 2012, surpassing combined sales of the regular Prius and the Prius α, which ranked second, and ending the Prius brand record of being the top selling new car in Japan for 16 months in a row. The Aqua kept the top selling spot through December 2012, and with 266,567 units sold in 2012, the Aqua ranked as the second best selling car that year after the Prius brand. When sales of these two Prius models are broken down, the Toyota Aqua ranks as the top selling model in Japan, including kei cars, and the Aqua led monthly sales since February through December 2012.
The Aqua continued as the top selling car in Japan during every month of the first quarter of 2013, and after ranking second behind the Toyota Prius during the second quarter, the Aqua was again the top selling car in Japan during the third quarter of 2013. A total of 262,367 Aquas were sold in 2013, down 1.6% from 2012, but nevertheless, the Aqua topped new car sales in Japan in 2013, including kei car sales. With 233,212 units sold during 2014, down 11.1% from 2013, the Aqua was the top selling new car in Japan for the second consecutive year.
Since its introduction, a total of 901,465 units have been sold in Japan through July 2015, representing 83.4% of the model global sales. The Toyota Aqua is considered the most successful nameplate launch in the Japanese market of the last 20 years.
Sales of the Prius c began in the U.S. in March 2012, at a price starting at US$18,950 plus a US$760 destination charge. After three days in the American market, the carmaker announced that the Prius c became “one of Toyota’s fastest-selling vehicles.” During its first month in the market, the Prius c sold 4,875 units, accounting for 17.0% of the Prius family sales in the U.S. A total of 35,733 units were sold during 2012, and the Prius c ranked as the fourth best selling hybrid car in the U.S that year. During 2013 a total of 41,979 units were sold, allowing the Prius c to rank as the third top selling hybrid car during that year, behind the Prius liftback and the Camry Hybrid. During the first nine months of 2014 Prius c sales were down by 4.7% as compared with the same period in 2013, following the same declining trend as the overall hybrid segment in the American market. As of July 2015, a total of 140,720 units have been sold since its introduction in March 2012.
The Prius c is offered in four trims named Prius c One through Prius c Four. The basic level Prius c One includes power windows and door locks, automatic climate control, Multi-Information Display (MID), Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), Remote Keyless Entry, projector-beam halogen headlamps, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, 4-speaker audio, Bluetooth hands-free telephone controls, Bluetooth and USB auxiliary outlets, and rear intermittent window wiper. The Prius c Four, which sells for US$23,230 also includes Softex-trimmed seats, heated front power mirrors with turn signal indicators, alloy wheels, and fog lamps.
For the 2015 model year, the Prius c received a light facelift with alterations to the front and rear lamps and bumpers. Three new bright colors have also been added to the North American lineup.
Toyota Canada launched the Prius c in March 2012 with a starting price of CA$20,950 (US$21,100). During its first month in the Canadian market, 328 units were sold and the Prius c represented about 25% of Toyota subcompact sales that month. A total of 556 units were sold in April, its first full month in the market, accounting for 39% of total Prius family sales and 33% of Toyota subcompact sales. A total of 2,530 units were sold during 2012, 2,816 units in 2013, and sales declined to 2,776 in 2014. Since its introduction, a total of 10,183 Prius c hybrids have been sold through July 2015.
The Prius c was released in Australia in April 2012 starting at A$23,990 (US$24,426). A second trim with the higher-spec model is called Prius C i-Tech and priced at A$26,990 (US$27,480). A total of 1,883 units were sold during 2012, significantly ahead of Prius v (936 units) and the conventional Prius (861 units). Sales during the first half of 2013 reached 1,242 units, again surpassing Prius v (539 units) and the Prius liftback (277 units). As of February 2014, cumulative sales since introduction totaled 4,521 units. Again in 2014, sales of the Prius c (1,654) topped its siblings Prius v (722) and the third-generation Prius hatche (487).
Excluding the Japanese and North American markets, a total of 25,462 units have been sold in other countries as of September 2014.
- Costa Rica
The Prius c was introduced in 2012 at a price starting at US$36,000. As the other electric-drive vehicles sold in the country, the Prius c is subject to lower import duties and local taxes. Since October 2012, Prius c owners are exempted from the driving restriction by license plate number used to control access to downtown San José, the country’s capital.
Toyota launched the Prius c in Ecuador in April 2012, with the standard price of US$26,900.
- Hong Kong
A total of 358 Prius c were sold during 2012, surpassing combined sales of the conventional Prius (132 units) and the Prius v (113).
The Prius c was launched in Malaysia in February 2012, where it costs RM97,000 (US$31,750) including insurance.
- New Zealand
Sales of the Prius c in New Zealand began in April 2012, starting at a price of NZ$30,990 (US$25,400).
Toyota launched the Prius c in the Philippines in January 2012, with the introductory pricing of ₱1,475,000 (US$34,250).
The Prius c was launched in Singapore in January 2012, costing about S$115,988 (~US$93,257) for the base trim and about S$118,988 (~US$95,670) for the Snazzy trim with a COE of S$64,209 (~US$51,625) as of March 2013.
Toyota launched the Prius c in Taiwan in March 2012, starting at a price of NT$859,000 (US$29,100).
- The Prius c was one of the five finalists for the 2013 Green Car of the Year awarded by the Green Car Journal at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
- In November 2012, Consumer Reports ranked the Prius c as the most reliable 2012 model year vehicle in the United States. The magazine based this later ranking on reliability data obtained through its annual auto survey that covers 1.2 million vehicles owned or leased by subscribers to Consumer Reports. The magazine had previously given a negative review to the Prius c. The magazine had based this earlier ranking on driving tests by its own testers.