While the Lexus version will be aimed at upmarket consumers and designed to rival cars like the BMW 1-series and Audi A3, the European-produced hybrid will be much more affordable and could be based on the compact Yaris.
The information comes from Japan’s Asahi newspaper, which also reports that Toyota will launch this compact hybrid in Japan in late 2011 with a price tag of roughly ¥1.5 million ($15,760). The European version will likely start production that same year.
The new dedicated hybrid will use the platform and engine of the Yaris compact, which will be fully remodeled ahead of the car’s launch. The new hybrid also will feature a more cost-competitive and fuel-efficient hybrid system than that of the Prius, the reports claim.
This won’t be the first hybrid Toyota builds in Europe, however. The automaker plans to build a gasoline-electric version of its Auris hatchback (sold as a Corolla in other markets) at its factory near Derby in the UK by the middle of next year.