Toyota Plans Big Hybrid Future
Toyota is planning to introduce a staggering number of hybrids and electric cars in the next three to five years. The specific product introductions are documented in the latest issue of Automotive News, which features a special report on future products from the Japanese brands. Of course, these plans are not set in stone, but they do indicate a serious commitment to hybrids in the immediate future.
Toyota announced Thursday that cumulative global sales of the Prius hybrid passed the 2 million mark at the end of September. And now the Prius franchise is going to expand.
In 2012, the company will introduce the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. At the same time, according to Automotive News, Toyota will build a Prius coupe with “dramatic styling” to stack up against the Honda CR-Z sporty coupe hybrid. The company has already held a design competition between Toyota’s four global design studios for the coupe design.
The global vehicle could be built, at first, in Japan in 2012 as a 2013 model. Production will then shift to Toyota’s Mississippi plant, where the company had planned to produce Priuses before the economic downturn led to a decision to mothball the facility.
The Mississippi plant could also produce a Prius pick-up truck—based on the A-BAT pick-up concept—while a Prius wagon would be manufactured outside the U.S. for Asian and possibly European markets only. Our sources tell us that the next Prius slated for the U.S. market, sometime in 2011, is a crossover-sized model, significantly larger than the current Prius model.
As we recently reported, Toyota will bring six new hybrids to market in 2012—four Toyota models and two from Lexus—as well as a small EV subcompact (in the spirit of the Scion iQ) and the RAV4 EV (which is joint project with Tesla). By 2013, if not sooner, Toyota will make the shift from nickel metal hydride batteries to lithium ion.
Automotive News says the Toyota Prius will go through a full redesign by 2015, at which time Toyota will produce a “decontented version” version of the Prius, intended for economy buyers.