Prius Hybrid Family Grows
Prius, as previously mentioned, is going to go from one model to four in the not-too-distant future. The first line extension, as suspected, will be the Prius v, with the “v” signifying “versatility” according to Bob Carter group vice president and general manager, Toyota Div. Here it is:
“With almost the same footprint as the current Prius,” Carter said, “it has nearly 60% more cargo space, making it the most spacious dedicated hybrid vehicle in the industry.” The car will have 34 cubic feet of space for cargo. The height of this Prius is 62 in., compared with the 58,7 in. of the Prius Prius. “It will deliver estimated mileage of 42 city, 38 highway, and 40 combined. . . . That’s the best combined mileage of any SUV, crossover, or wagon sold in America,” according to Carter.
Now, that’s not the first addition to the Prius lineup. That will be the Prius Plug-in. Which, unless you’re a highly discerning Prius person, you might mistake for a regular third-gen Prius. The difference here is that it has lithium-ion battery packs that, depending on how you drive, permit going about 13 miles at speeds up to 60 mph on pure electric power. The hybrid then operates like a hybrid after that power has been depleted. Given that the Prius has a combined 50 mpg, that depletion isn’t exactly a big issue, all things considered. It is recharged via a 110- or 220-volt outlet; it takes an estimated three hours on the 110 and half that on 220.
The Prius Plug-In will go on sale during the first half of 2012 in 14 West and East Coast states—where about 60% of Prius sales are generated, in case you’re wondering why the selective positioning—and then in all states in 2013.
There is another all-new Prius in the wings, as well. This is, at this point, still a concept, although Bob Carter said of the car, “Prius c Concept is the inspiration for our next Prius family member that we plan to launch in the first half of next year. It will be the most value-oriented hybrid, with the highest mileage of any ‘plug-less’ hybrid available in the U.S.”
While at the North American International Auto Show a high-ranking Toyota executive told me that he fully expects the Prius to outsell the Camry in the U.S. market within the next few years, which is an amazing observation, given that the Camry, again, for the ninth year running, the number-one selling car in the U.S. in 2010, with 327,804 cars sold, and that number was down 7.5% compared with 2009 sales.
High expectations for a hybrid line-up that’s taking shape.
Lithium-ion batteries have become the technology of choice for EVs, and falling costs and rising energy levels could keep them on top for nearly two decades.
A young(ish) guy that I’ve known for a number of years, a man who spent the better part of his career writing for auto buff books and who is a car racer on the side, mentioned to me that his wife has a used Lexus ES Hybrid.
Dan Nicholson is vice president of General Motors Global Propulsion Systems, the organization that had been “GM Powertrain” for 24 years.