At the SEMA show at the beginning of November, Toyota announced an Associated Accessory Products (AAP) program for the main brand and for Lexus. Instead of making customers go to the aftermarket for certain mods, the AAP put dozens of accessories from companies like ARB, Go Rhino, Rigid Industries, and Yakima on dealer parts lists, making the accessories available for order at storefronts and sometimes on a vehicle’s online configurator. The catalog isn’t limited to off-road gear, either. Carscoops noted that California company MillerCat joined the roster, one of the firm’s missions to create metal shielding for catalytic converters. For $140 plus the price of dealer installation, a Prius owner with a Cat Shield has a better chance of keeping a car component that can cost more than $1,000 new, and that the vehicle won’t run without.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau reported 3,246 cat thefts nationwide in 2008. In 2020, the theft rate rose to 14,433 cats, a 325% increase over 2019. Those numbers only count thefts off an insured vehicle that the policy holder reported. The real number is far higher. Hybrids are popular targets because their cats are larger and contain more precious metals such as palladium, platinum, and rhodium. Electrified powertrains don’t run the continuous ICE duty cycle of a standard non-electrified powertrain, causing greater fluctuations in the temperature of the catalytic converter, which needs to be about 500 to 800 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum efficiency. At the time of writing, a recycling company valued scrap rhodium at about $410 per gram, and there might be two grams of the silvery stuff in the average catalytic converter. The platinum and palladium count can get up to 7 grams apiece. Pickups and vehicles with large-displacement engines are also popular targets.
The Prius Cat Shield is made from 5052 aluminum known for its strength and saltwater corrosion resistance, and high-grade 304 stainless steel commonly called “Inconel,” known for corrosion resistance and durability. The shield’s affixed with what MillerCAT calls a tamper-proof screw kit. There’s no drilling needed and the unit clamps to existing hardpoints, so buyers can install it themselves if they want to skip the dealer cost.
More members of the Toyota family can get in on this action. Cat Shields, the part of MillerCAT focusing on shields, has been making these fixtures for years and offers protection going back to the 2004 Prius and the various Prius family vehicles. There are shields for the 4Runner, Corolla, RAV4 Prime and Hybrid, Sequoia, Tacoma, and Tundra Hybrid as well at the company site. It’s likely some of these units will make their way under the Toyota aftermarket umbrella as part of the AAP program.