Prius+ to kick off big hybrid expansion for Toyota
That’s according to the chief engineer of the new Prius+, Makoto Okabe.
The Prius+ is the fourth hybrid in the current Toyota range after the Prius, Auris and Yaris. Toyota plans to extend its hybrids to 10 by 2015, and eventually to offer a petrol-electric version of nearly every model it makes.
“We chose an MPV (for our second Prius) because of the potential volumes, but if there was a (business) case for any other kind of model we would consider it,” says Okabe.
Even a sporty Prius using a more powerful petrol engine and electric motor is possible, although Okabe says that “for the time being there is no plan”.
The Prius+ is based on Toyota’s medium compact (MC) platform, also used for the Corolla, Auris, Prius and Avensis, though it is most closely related to the Verso medium-sized MPV.
It is the world’s first full hybrid seven-seater. In Europe it comes with lithium-ion batteries instead of the nickel-metal hydride pack in the Prius hatchback because they are smaller and lighter (although twice as expensive), and can therefore be housed upright in the space between the front seats, freeing space in the rear floor area for a third row of folding seats.
In America the Prius+ is sold as a five-seater car with nickel-metal hydride batteries, while Japanese buyers are offered both versions.
The Prius+ will be available in the UK with a choice of two trim levels from £26,195.
Seven out of 10 sales are expected to be to fleet customers once the initial flurry of orders has been met because, with a class-best CO2 figure of 96g/km, it attracts a company car tax rate of only 10 per cent – several bands lower than any rival.
Words by: Headline Auto