Green Update–>Prius Lineup Expands with New Wagon, City Car, Plug-in

Toyota Prius v

All you Toyota-bashers out there had best remember that Prius has sold over 2 million units as of last September. Of the 275,000 hybrids sold in the U.S. last year, over half were Priuses. “It is incredibly dominant. Prius outsold the entire Acura and Infiniti brands,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive.

With gas prices on the rise, it’s a good time to expand the brand and its appeal. Most interesting of the new vehicles is the Prius v, shown above, a multipurpose hatchback wagon that has 50 percent more interior room than the present Prius.

Although heavier and slower, it’s not bad looking, has smartly folding and sliding seats, and more hip room for hip families. Fuel economy is 42 mpg city, 38 highway, and 40 combined. In dealerships by mid-year.

The city car, called the c (right), is a clever downsize of the regular Prius, still in concept form but predicted to arrive in mid-2012. Tech specs haven’t been released, but it should be the lowest-cost, most fuel effcient Prius. It will also have little in the way of competition—unless you like CR-Zs.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid goes on sale next year in 14 East and West Coast states. This is pretty much a commuter car, with 13-mile electric-only range, a 60-mph top speed in EV mode, and a fast recharge. Competition for this one is already out there in the form of the Leaf and Volt, and it’s the least exciting of the new Prius offerings.

All the top Toyota execs were on hand for the big unveiling in Detroit and were talking for the cameras. Here’s Jim Lentz, head of U.S. sales, talking for CNN. In another interview, he said he thought Prius would surpass Camry as the best-selling car in the U.S.

The most humbling remarks were made by President Akio Toyoda, who once again recommitted the company to quality:

Displaying two rice balls, packets of cooked rice—one that was mass-produced and typically sold in convenience stores, and another that was individually hand-prepared—Toyoda said the automaker would strive to deliver that level of care in each vehicle.

Man, I’d rather have a rice dispenser than Bluetooth in my new Prius.

Is Toyota really on the way back with its new Prius models?


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  1. The Detroit Auto Show 2011 is here now, and Ford pickups are making major industry noise. As that has been a trend for Ford this quarter, the glory of Ford’s recent wave of pickups comes as no surprise, writes Reuters. A high Ford executive told the news service that the rise is forecasted to continue, and Ford’s success should also be a strong sign for the United States auto market as a whole.

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