A wagon type of Toyota’s Prius hybrid, with a lithium-ion battery, will roll out in Japan in late April, Toyota Motor Corp has announced.
The seven-seater Prius wagon will be one of two new versions of the Prius hybrid, in a bid to increase sales in the domestic auto market after the government subsidy program to promote eco-friendly car purchases ended in September.
The prototype of the new models, which is named the Prius space concept, shows the seven-seater model is equipped with a lithium-ion battery, which is more compact, lightweight and powerful than the nickel metal hydride batteries that now power Prius.
The seven-seater Prius will be launched in the United States this summer and in Europe next year.
The five-seater version will have a bigger interior space than the original Prius, but will have a nickel metal hydride battery.
Speaking about the development, Hiroshi Kayukawa, deputy chief engineer of Toyota’s product development group, said: "We would like to offer a hybrid model which is a minivan with a roomy interior and three rows, as well as possessing overwhelmingly high fuel efficiency demonstrated by Prius at an affordable price."
The specific date of the launch, prices and sales targets will be announced later, the automaker said.
Toyota has sold 2.19m Prius units, adding to a total of 3m hybrid vehicle units globally.
In Japan, Prius retained the top position for 19 months through December 2010, however, sales of the Prius started to decline year-on-year after the government subsidy program ended in September.