Toyota is looking to take advantage of the green image its Prius petrol-electric hybrid vehicle enjoys by building upon the ‘Prius’ name and launching a new family of eco-friendly vehicles under it. Japanese execs have mentioned in the past that such an idea was under consideration and latest reports confirm the next-generation Prius, due to be unveiled at next year’s Detroit Auto Show, will come in several different flavors.
There is likely to be two different Prius body styles, a smaller MPV version and a larger sedan, with each available in budget and high-end luxury trims. The larger model will follow the styling of the Hybrid X (pictured) displayed at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, while the smaller model will adopt the lines of the rear-engined 1/X concept from last year’s Tokyo event.
The extra hybrid models also mean extra production volumes, and according to the Nikkei Toyota will boost production of its hybrid vehicles by about 60%.
The line-up will also address one of the current car’s major pitfalls – its lacklustre fuel-economy. Bigger engines and lighter bodies are planned for the new models, and although Toyota won’t be adopting advanced lithium-ion battery technology the new Prius models should offer much better fuel-economy and cleaner emissions than the current car. In 2010, Toyota also hopes to have the first plug-in hybrid vehicle on the market.