Trademark filings for model names usually present a mystery.
What a carmaker is planning when it registers a specific name can be hard to impossible to ascertain.
And so it is with the case of "Prius Prime," a new model name that may expand Toyota's line of Prius hybrids at some point in the future.
As noted on the Kaizen Factor blog, on March 26 of this year, Toyota registered the trademark "Prius Prime" for “automobiles and structural parts thereof," under serial number 86577082.
2015 Toyota Prius Liftback
Author Joaquin Ruhi offers several suggestions as to what model might be dubbed the Prius Prime:
- a new fifth member of the Prius family (which now includes the classic Prius Liftback, Prius C, Prius V, and Prius Plug-in Hybrid)
- a top-of-the-line trim for the upcoming all-new fourth-generation Prius that will be unveiled this fall
- a separate model name for the next Prius Plug-In Hybrid (admittedly a clunky name) that will follow the next generation by a year or so
- a designator that would allow the current third-generation Prius to continue on sale for a while side-by-side with the latest version
It's also worth noting, however, that many trademarks are registered but never actually put on production models.
Automakers will register brand names to protect them in case they want to use them--but plans may change.
They may also re-register older model names just to prevent them being reused on vehicles from other makers.
2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model
(Buick was able to use "Encore" for its small SUV in 2013 because Renault let its U.S. trademark lapse, despite using the name for several years on a Wisconsin-built small sedan and convertible.)
Still, with the next-generation Prius within months of appearing, the timing does seem intriguing.
Stay tuned for more on this one.