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Report: Toyota To Launch Lithium-Ion Prius Minivan Hybrid In Early 2011

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.

Comments

3PeaceSweet

Taxi / carpool future vehicle of choice?

HarveyD

A Prius mini-van with a lighter Lithium battery pack will be an interesting solution for larger families while offering similar excellent Prius III fuel economy and reliability. NiMH or Li-On batteries may be optional to suit the pocket book and owners preference. By 2015 (or before), improved Lithium batteries will make the PHEV version a strong possibility.

The conservative, one step at a time, Toyota approach will pay dividends soon.

ToppaTom

Batteries of any kind are still too expensive, but the option of NiMH or L-Ion allows one to choose which beating to take.

Engineer-Poet

Batteries too expensive? Renault's figures appear to be coming in under $450/kWh already.

mahonj

The only problem is that this looks like a smallish minivan - it is built on a Prius chassis, so it will really only be a 5+2 van, rather than a 7 seater.

However, it will be the 7 seater of choice for the well heeled green family (if the kids aren't too big, or if there are <= 3 of them).

If you have 4-5, what you would really like is a Previa sized hybrid minivan i.e. a real 7 seater.

But I can see the strategy - get the basic Prius system going, and build out the model range based on it, so well done Toyota.

ai_vin

If the pictures I've seen labeled "Prius Minivan" are for real I'd say the term is being misused. It's more of an Estate car, which in America used to be call a station wagon.

HarveyD

I'm tempted to agree with mahonj that it could be smallish for about 62% of the current USA population. However, it may be large enough for 90+% of the current slender Asian and European families.

Can anybody post the specs (specially interior sizes) for this proposed Prius Mini-Van? or Mini-Something?

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