The Nikkei reports that Toyota Motor Corp. will introduce a new Prius minivan equipped with Li-ion batteries early next year—the first of a coming rollout of hybrids equipped with Li-ion packs.
The new Prius minivan, slated for release in early 2011, will offer a spacious interior and improved fuel economy by taking advantage of the lithium ion battery’s compact size and light weight. It will likely feature three rows of seats for carrying five to seven people. Its seat configuration will be flexible to allow for convenient seating and create luggage space. Toyota plans to keep the price of the new Prius minivan at a level similar to those of current Prius models.
...The leading Japanese automaker plans to continue offering models with nickel-metal hydride batteries in order to meet consumers’ diverse needs. A hybrid vehicle that Toyota plans to introduce around 2015 will also offer a choice between the two batteries.
Toyota reportedly will initially manufacture the Li-ion batteries at its Teiho factory in Aichi Prefecture, with production at Panasonic EV Energy Co., a joint venture with Panasonic, to be added later.