To reclaim momentum in the U.S. market, Toyota Motor Corp. aims to play to its strength and expand the Prius into a four-model family by adding a new plug-in, a wagon and a super-fuel efficient model. It is believed that the plug-in, a rival to the Chevrolet Volt, will receive the most public attention.
Toyota is relying on Prius' brand equity to secure its status as the leading producer of hybrid-powered vehicles worldwide. Bob Carter, general manager of Toyota division, said that Toyota will “plant a family tree and watch it grow.”
Toyota’s specific plans to expand the Prius lineup include the following descriptions of the products: (1) The Prius v wagon will have space for five passengers, and will offer 50% more interior cargo space than the current Prius.
It will feature the same powertrain, and can go 42 mpg on the highway and 38 mpg in city driving. Sales will start this summer. (2) The Prius Plug-in will feature a hybrid powertrain that enables the car to go 13 miles on the battery alone.
A 110-volt system will recharge the lithium ion battery in 3 hours; a 220-volt system will do so in 90 minutes. Toyota will present its plug-in in 14 states on the East and West coasts in the first half of 2012 while the other parts of the country will get it a year after.
The “c Concept” will feature the best fuel economy of any cordless hybrid sold in the U.S., but it will cost less than the current Prius. In the first half of 2012, Toyota will introduce a model based on the c Concept. Toyota didn’t give details but it seems to refer to the Honda CR-Z.