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Toyota adds top-spec Prius V

People power: Toyota says it expects sales of its Prius V people-mover to grow with the addition of an i-Tech version.

Prius V i-Tech adds safety and luxury features to Toyota’s first hybrid people-mover

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Toyota logo28 Nov 2012

TOYOTA Australia has expanded its people-mover line-up with the release of a range-topping i-Tech variant of its Prius V seven-seat hybrid wagon.

At $46,490, the luxury variant of Australia’s only hybrid people-mover comes at a $10,000 premium over the base model that was introduced in May, but includes a number of luxury and safety features for the extra money.

Toyota expects 75 per cent of Prius V buyers to stick with the entry-level model, with 25 per cent paying extra for the i-Tech.

Essentially a stretched version of the third-generation Prius, the Prius V is Toyota’s entry-level people-mover, sitting below the larger Tarago that starts at $48,990.

The Japanese car-maker achieved the extra space in the Prius V by using a space-saving lithium-ion battery pack under the centre console between the front seats, as opposed to the regular Prius’s larger nickel-metal hydride system.

Additional safety and comfort features in the i-Tech model include radar adaptive cruise control, satellite navigation, digital radio, park assist, premium seat coverings and a pre-crash safety system for the brakes and seatbelts.

Toyota has included ‘body control with torque demand’, a system that it says uses the electric motor to adjust the torque to help flatten out undulations on the road surface that the car-maker claims results in less bouncing and pitching.

Other standard features in the i-Tech include heated front seats, auto-leveling LED projector lamps with washers and a panoramic sunroof that raises the height of the i-Tech by 25mm to 1615mm.

This is combined with standard equipment across the range such as hill-start assist, reversing camera, seven airbags and brake assist.

The Prius V i-Tech uses Toyota’s 1.8-litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and a 60kW electric motor for a combined power output of 100kW, the same as in the entry-level Prius V.

Toyota claims class-leading fuel economy figures of 4.4-litres per 100km on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 101 grams per kilometre, helped along by a drag coefficient of 0.29.

Sales of the Prius V have matched Toyota’s initial projections of 100 units a month, with 594 sold so far since its launch in May.

Toyota Australia public relations manager Mike Breen said the company had been pleased with the sales figures of the Prius V since its launch in May.

“We are quite happy with that,” he said. “We think that the introduction of the premium grade will assist in lifting sales as well.”

Mr Breen said that he is not concerned about the i-Tech cannibalising sales of the entry-level Prius V or the even Tarago people mover.

“We think it will take a few sales away from the entry-level car but we don’t think it will have a huge impact on entry-level sales,” he said.

“The Tarago obviously is used as transport by tourist vehicles and maybe hotels. The Tarago is not so much in the domain of the private buyer these days whereas the Prius V is aimed more at the private buyer.” So far this year, Toyota Australia has sold more than 10,000 Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles – the first time any company has achieved this landmark in a year.

This number includes about 8000 Toyota vehicles and 2000 Lexus vehicles, beating the previous record of 9422 vehicles for both brands combined in 2010.

Hybrids make up 33.9 per cent of all local Lexus sales, but just 4.5 per cent of Toyotas have the fuel-saving Hybrid Synergy Drive technology.

Mr Breen said the company would like to sell more hybrid vehicles, but is happy with the acceptance of the technology globally.

“With the Camry Hybrid yesterday winning the Best Car Awards, it’s just something else that reinforces that hybrid technology is becoming more normalised in the world,” he said.

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