With the death of the Toyota Prius, we remember the forgotten history of hybrid cars

With the humble Toyota Prius dropped from sale, we’re outselling the hybrids left over from history.

In a sad turn of events, it was announced this week that Toyota It will stop selling the Prius after years of dwindling sales.

It’s a shame to throw off the plate that paved the way for electrification of mass-market cars in general, with the humble Prius arguably one of the most important cars of the past quarter century.

It’s a sign of the times when today’s hottest hybrids wear SUV-style body styles. Pioneers such as the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq have waned in popularity in recent years, as popular high-ride alternatives like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid have taken their places.

Here are some of our favorite hybrids that have also fallen into obscurity, dropped from sale in the Australian new car market.

Initially offered in the seventh generation Civic sedan in 2004 and 2005, Honda’s small hybrid continued in the eighth generation of the car until 2014.

The fact that it hasn’t changed much during its sales contract (2011-2021) may be the reason why last year’s Lexus vanished without a hitch.

The Pathfinder Hybrid arrived in 2018 and was offered in all trim levels of the seven-seat SUV. It exited the market with the rest of the R52 Pathfinder lineup in 2020.

Not surprisingly for a new Lexus launched in the last decade, the GS sedan comes with a plug-in 450-hour V6 hybrid option. Like the entire GS line, the rhe GS450h has disappeared from showrooms in the last 24 months.

Whereas the original NSX was a naturally aspirated V6, three-pedal icon associated with a particular video with F1 ace Ayrton Senna, the second-generation NSX opted for a turbocharged V6 – but in four years on sale here (2016-20), it sold out. Only nine.

Launched as the M35h in 2010, before becoming the Q70 in 2014, the Infiniti Q70 range was launched globally in 2019 due to sluggish sedan sales – and in Australia, the brand’s withdrawal from the home market.

While today’s S-Class electric limousines feature plugs, the mid-2010 S400h used a plug-less hybrid system akin to the Toyota model. Mercedes-Benz has not made a “self-charging” gasoline-electric hybrid since then.

Mercedes C300 and E300 Bluetec Diesel Hybrid

The small gasoline engine wasn’t enough for Mercedes-Benz, as it switched to a small 2.1-liter diesel engine as a fossil-fuel component in its C300 and E300 BlueTec hybrid models circa 2014. The company has since built a diesel hybrid, albeit a plug-in hybrid.

The Toyota Prius wasn’t the first hybrid car sold in Australia – it was the Honda Insight, which outpaced Toyota on the market by nearly six months.

While the first-generation model depicted above has gained cult popularity — and has not been forgotten — its civil society-based successors have not achieved the same stature in the history books.

Like Mercedes-Benz, BMW’s first modern hybrids used ‘self-charging’ systems – including the oddly named ActiveHybrid 3, which was sold between 2012 and 2015, before it was replaced by the longer-range 330e hybrid.

Toyota expanded its Prius hybrid family in 2012 with the seven-seater Prius V and the city hatch Prius C. The latter was excluded locally last year, while the former died in 2019, before the arrival of the new Yaris Hybrid.

Hybrids are known for their impressive fuel economy and low CO2 emissions – which is why Lexus crammed a 5.0-liter V8 engine under the hood of the LS600hL Hybrid, producing 290 kW before electric motor assist.

Not surprisingly, the Lexus LS Hybrid in showrooms today has a much more economical 3.5-liter V6 engine.

Are there any forgotten hybrids… that we’ve forgotten about? Let us know in the comments.

Tom got his start in the auto industry by tapping into his photography skills but soon learned that journalists got a better end to the deal. He started with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and whichCar, then returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 while moving to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers auto news, car reviews and tips and is particularly interested in long-form stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has different requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but there is also a loyal subset of the Drive audience that loves entertainment for enthusiasts. Tom has a deep respect for all things cars regardless of model, and takes pride in noticing the exact things that make every car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an ever-changing industry, which is then moved to the drive’s reader base.

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