A Toyota Crown Prime plug-in hybrid could be in the works to complement the Prius Prime and RAV4 Prime, according to a recent Motor Trend report.
The Crown returns to the United States for the first time since the 1970s as a replacement for the Toyota Avalon, and with an all-hybrid powertrain lineup. But Toyota is also considering a plug-in hybrid powertrain, according to the report, which cites none other than CEO Akio Toyoda.
The Crown goes on sale in the U.S. later this year with two hybrid systems. The standard setup combines a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine with the latest version of Toyota's planetary-gear-based hybrid system to power the front wheels, adding a third motor to power the rear wheels for all-wheel drive.
2023 Toyota Crown
An optional system gets the Hybrid Max badging that debuted on the Tundra pickup truck, but it appears to be a Toyota version of the Lexus Direct4 performance-hybrid system. It pairs a 2.4-liter turbo-4 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission and motors front and rear for a combined 323 hp.
As for the potential Prime plug-in hybrid system, one possibility is to borrow the system from the 2023 Lexus RX 450h+ plug-in hybrid. But Motor Trend notes that this system may not produce more power than the existing Hybrid Max system, which might not make sense depending on how the Crown Prime is positioned.
The RAV4 Prime, with 42 electric miles, was at debut also the quickest Toyota with four doors, and it even offers some off-road capability. But Toyota last year suggested to Green Car Reports that bigger, heavier PHEVs might not get as much range—and that we shouldn't expect them to be performance leaders either.
2023 Toyota Crown
The automaker also previously hinted that a Highlander Prime might be the next plug-in hybrid model to debut. Regardless of the model cadence, plug-in hybrids do seem to be an important part of Toyota's future plans.
Toyota plans to emphasize plug-in hybrids increasingly more toward the end of the decade, with about 85% of vehicles free of tailpipe emissions, and CEO Akio Toyoda last week called the national target of 50% EVs by 2030 "difficult."
Meanwhile, Toyota has said the solid-state battery tech it has been developing will debut by 2025 in a hybrid, not the EVs most other automakers seem to be reserving the tech for.