2004 Toyota Prius: History and Future
October 19, 2010
The first Prius I ever drove was a 2004 model. It was just released for sale and was the hot new thing. I was allowed to take it for a weekend out of another long-term test lot and it drew a lot of attention. I'd get stopped in parking lots, barraged by questions like, "what's it like to drive?" and "what's the mileage like?" It was a bit of a novelty back then. Nowadays, it's as commonplace as a cell phones and flat -panel TVs. So now I'm wondering what will be the Prius' legacy?
How will the Prius be remembered? I think it'll go down much like the original Honda Civic and its CVCC engine. It appeared on the scene in the 1970s, when the gas crisis hit and when other manufacturers regarded the new U.S. Clean Air Act as impossible to meet. Sound familiar?
Both the Honda and Toyota showed that smaller and more efficient cars were the way. The Civic unseated the massive Oldsmo-Buicks and other assorted land yachts of the period, while the Prius tempered the SUV movement.
Going forward, I wonder how long the Prius will stay on the road. I can't remember the last time I saw a first-gen Civic on the highway. Will the Prius slowly disappear as battery packs deplete, or will loyal owners keep them out there? Will it simply be a footnote, like MySpace or BetaMax?
Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor