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Toyota confirms new hybrid models

Prius proliferation: Toyota unveiled the FT-CH Prius coupe concept at the Detroit show back in January.

Prius hybrid set to spawn smaller city-car and larger SUV variants by 2013

Toyota logo14 Oct 2010

By PHILIP LORD

MEDIA reports from the US speculating that Toyota Japan plans to augment its Prius with two offshoot hybrid models by 2013 have been confirmed by local Toyota management.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed source last week as saying that Toyota briefed its US dealers recently about two upcoming hybrids, one larger and one smaller than the current Prius.

Asked this week to comment on the story and – if accurate – the likelihood of these new models arriving here, Toyota Australia sales and marketing director David Buttner told GoAuto he was aware of such models, and of their development “progressing” overseas.

Mr Buttner added that the new hybrids in development had not reached Australia’s future product list, and were therefore not yet in its product plans, which extend to 2015.

After the US dealer meeting in Las Vegas, Toyota issued a press release pledging to expand its line-up of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

Last month, Toyota product development chief Takeshi Uchiyamada said that Toyota plans to add six hybrid vehicles to its global line-up by 2012, an increase that would give it a total of 20 models that use batteries and regenerative braking to extend fuel economy.

Mr Uchiyamada indicated at the time that the smaller, Yaris-sized hybrid would be offered by 2012 as a lower-cost electric vehicle for urban car buyers driving short distances and is being developed by Toyota’s own engineers.

The larger model is understood to be an SUV version of the Prius, offering 50 per cent more interior and cargo space.

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