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Nikkei: Toyota’s new Aqua hybrid to offer industry-leading gas mileage

The Nikkei reports that the compact hybrid Toyota Motor Corp. plans to launch in January is expected to travel up to nearly 40km on a liter of gasoline (2.5 L/100km, 94 mpg US) under a new Japanese testing standard, which reflects actual driving patterns more closely than its predecessor.

This new hybrid will use the same powertrain as the highly popular Prius, helping to hold down development costs. Featuring a more compact design, the Aqua will not only beat the Prius' 32km fuel economy, but also likely sell for around 1.7 million yen, around 300,000 yen cheaper than the Prius.

Toyota hopes the addition of the Aqua, targeted at younger drivers and women, will help expand its customer base. The hybrid will be sold through all four Toyota domestic dealership channels, with a North American rollout planned as well.



Will there be a plugin version?

Account Deleted

The classic Prius does 32 km per liter and this new mini Prius does 40 km per liter or an increase of 25%. Therefore, an estimate of the US EPA rating will be 62.5 MPG for the new mini Prius up 25% from the 50 MPG of the classic Prius. That is about 20 MPG better than the highest MPG of any minicar on the US market.

Together with the larger Prius V Toyota is becoming the clear fuel economy leader in three important market segments besting the competition with at least 10 MPG.

I am sure Toyota will include PHEV versions of both this mini Prius and the Prius V if the classic Prius PHEV sells well. Toyota’s bottleneck may be how fast they are able to ramp up production of the needed lithium batteries.


Anne, I am not sure it needs to be PHEV, it is so efficient already.
It would be better off being as cheap as possible to lots of people can buy them.

The Prius PHEV is a sort of headliner (and I wish them well) for efficiency, but the small Aqua needs to sell well.

In my opinion, 15% less than a Prius is not low enough, but people might buy them because they are easier to park than the longer Prius, and a lot of old people who do not need larger cars might buy them.


At $22,000 for the Aqua HEV, a PHEV Aqua probably does not make fiscal sense.

But there is much PR, glory and some sales for a “reasonably sized” small car with REALLY high MPG equivalent.

And the PHEV might not need many more KWh. The charger would then be cheap, power would come out of just about any outlet in a few hours and even a 1.5 mi (or a little more) electric range would be significant for short trips. (Of course for short trips, a Hummer might not cost significantly either – but we’re talking pride-of-ownership here and longer trips too).

And, instead of buying a flashy, ego boosting Miata or Jeep, you can have an Aqua hybrid for ego boost, with much less premium cost.

Now if only more people liked tiny (Miata sized) cars we would be home free - with or without the Aqua hybrid.


Guys, based on the description, it seems likely this is the same car announced in the US as the Prius c! Remember that the Pius v is called Prius Alpha in Japan and Prius + in Europe. This is by far the first time that Toyota uses different in different markets around the word.

Henry Gibson

Conversion kits that follow the most recent ideas of Ron Gremban of CALCARS and force limited amounts of energy into the standard battery will reduce the need for gasoline sufficiently but will not eliminate it entirely. Someone ought to have a kit that adds an inverter to the prius main battery to supply standard power to people from a standard plug.

The hydraulic hybrid technology licensed to Bosch-Rexroth from ARTEMIS, local in the UK but now sold, is the most favorable and cheapest technology to reduce the use of fuel in ICE vehicles, but now they are tilting at windmills with the predictable results. ..HG..

Nick Lyons

Should be a cool car. However, I have to note that above 50mpg you are really getting into the realm of diminishing returns. Going from 50mpg to 62.5mpg only saves you 0.004 gallons/mile. At $3.50/gallon, that's $0.014/mile, or $168 if you drive 12,000 miles/year by saving 48 gallons.

On the other hand, if you improve from 20mpg to 25mpg you save 0.01 gallons/mile. Again, at $3.50/gallon, that's $0.035/mile, or $420 for 12,000 miles/year and a savings of 120 gallons.

Making all pickup trucks more efficient is going to save a lot more gasoline than selling super hybrids to people who are already driving hybrids. The big gains for fleet efficiency will come from 1) swapping guzzlers for smaller vehicles where possible, and 2) raising efficiency of the biggest guzzlers for those who can't or won't downsize.


Absolutely right Nick.

But that's not the point, it should be, but it's not.

It's like a Jeep that will go a bit further up the arroyo than anyone else’s.


@Nick - right on. From that point of view, the plug-in prius sounds very cool (I may actually opt for one), but I really won't save that much gas over a regular prius - and will have to pay ~7K more for it.

The smaller prius with 94 MPG at a lower cost gets awesome gas mileage and removes the need for the plug-in to get near 100 MPG efficiency.

I would opt for the plug-in if it got me into the car pool lanes for free. Charging at work would be nice, but the real benefit might be a better parking space. Charging up 3-4KWH is not really worth the expense and trouble.

Account Deleted

A more relevant comparison is to compare the mini Prius with a car of the same size say a Toyota Yaris 2012 with an EPA rated fuel economy of 34 MPG and cost of 14.100 USD.

Assuming 12000 miles and 3.5 USD per gallon the Yaris spend 1235 USD on gasoline per year.
Assuming 12000 miles and 3.5 USD per gallon the mini Prius spend 672 USD on gasoline per year.

Annual sawing on fuel is 563 USD per year or 5630 USD in 10 years.

An estimated price for the mini Prius in the US would be 15% lower than the 23500 USD for the classic Prius or about 19975 USD. In other words, what you pay more for the mini Prius equals its fuel savings at 3.5 USD a gallon in ten years.


Sad but true, Henrik, and inconvenient.

Account Deleted

Consider the larger vehicle example. For instance, comparing Toyota’s Rav4 with Prius V.

Assuming 12000 miles and 3.5 USD per gallon the Rav4 go 25MPG and therefore spend 1680 USD on gasoline per year.
Assuming 12000 miles and 3.5 USD per gallon the Prius V go 42MPG and therefore spend 1000 USD on gasoline per year.

Annual sawing on fuel is 680 USD or 6800 USD in 10 years.

The RAV4 starts at 22500 USD and the Prius V starts at 26400 USD. In other words, the Prius V costs 3900 USD more but it saves you 6800 USD in fuel in ten years.

Nick Lyons


I'm with you on the Rav4/Prius V example. My larger point is that the greatest and most cost-effective overall fleet savings will come from 1) people rightsizing their next vehicle purchase, 2) lower-cost improvements to the efficiency of larger vehicles, and 3) driving less.


Whoever got to be so over sized or over weight that very large boats on wheels are required should be prepared to pay a lot more to be transported from A to B.

For the other 40% or so, much smaller light weight e-vehicles would be a lot more efficient.

Unfortunately, if the current junk food fad is kept up for another decade or two, trucks and Hummer I may be back.

Roger Pham

@Henrik et al,
Since the new Aqua hybrid will use the same drive train as the current Prius III, it will have 134 hp combined power on tap, vs. the 106 hp for the 2012 Yaris. The electric drive train will accelerate the new Aqua even faster than the 134 hp combined power would suggest, due to a lot of low-end torque delivers by the electric motor.

So, at over ~19,000USD purchasing price,the Aqua owner would have a sport-car performance that can get ~0-60 in about 6 seconds but with a fuel consumption of about 65 mpg. If Toyota do their marketing right, those mini-sport car enthusiasts would consider it a lot more cost-effective to buy a high-spirited Aqua rather than buying an Yaris and then put in more cash to supercharge it.

Furthermore, at $14,000, the Yaris is likely a barebone model stripped of most comfort and conveniences. To equip it to the likely level of the Aqua, which likely will have at least an automatic AC system due to the use of electric compressor, and then automatic transmission, likely an upgrade for the barebone belt-driven accessories to fail, nor any transmission to fail, nor any clutches to burn...meaning a lot lower maintenance cost... Buyers would have to put away at least $16,000 and even more...Pay a lot more for gasoline later...and still don't get the good feeling of driving the most advanced, state-of-the-art electric hybrid.


The only thing that is news here is that Japan's very very, very optimistic mileage ratings have been down graded to merely very very optimistic. It lamost approaches the Eureopena NEDC that is 15% more optimistic than our legal measure the CAFE, which in turn is 30% more optimistic than the arbitrary and ill defined EPA window stickers.


Maintenance should include the $2599+ for the Prius steering sensor replacement (as on my brother's Prius and MANY others).

Save $15,000 by opting out of the supercharger for the Yaris.

Save $600 by not replacing the spindly wheels and tires on the Prius.

Oh, and even quite large people fit in the Yaris.

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