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Toyota To Roll Out More Hybrids

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author photo by Autotrader February 2011

Toyota is committed to hybrid technology – and its commitment will soon grow stronger. The company has just announced plans to display two all-new hybrid models at this year’s Geneva auto show in March: the Prius+, an expansion of its rapidly-growing Prius range, and a hybrid version of the Yaris hatchback.

Americans will be most interested in the Prius+, which Toyota says will be a seven-passenger minivan-like expansion of the Prius nameplate. Not to be confused with the five-seater Prius V, which debuted at January’s Detroit show, the Prius+ will offer “a significant increase in space and passenger accommodation, while sacrificing none of the traditional attributes found in the Prius DNA,” according to Toyota.

That means the Prius+ will no doubt feature a substantial combustion engine, perhaps an enlarged version of the four-cylinder powerplant found in the traditional hatchback, as well as familiar Prius styling. Toyota also promises that the Prius+ will have the lowest fuel consumption of any seven-seater in Europe, which will likely translate to the same virtue in the North American market.

Just as important for Toyota will be the debut of the Yaris HSD. So named for “hybrid synergy drive,” Toyota’s corporate moniker for its hybrid powertrain, the Yaris HSD will help Toyota’s hybrid technology square off against high-mileage European diesels. Judged a compact by American standards, the Yaris’s segment is the highest-volume car class in Europe, where the Prius is considered too big by many motorists.

Toyota says the Yaris HSD, which represents the next step in the automaker’s European full hybrid roll-out strategy, will feature several hybrid-specific design cues. While Toyota has not elaborated on these, LED tail lights, blue trim on the car’s Toyota badges, and possibly a bespoke grille and wheels are likely. Expected to be shown as a hatchback, Toyota’s plans for a Yaris HSD sedan are unknown. Also unknown is whether the Yaris HSD will come Stateside, as Yaris sales here have been relatively slow.

Toyota gave no indication of pricing or an estimated release date for either vehicle, although more details should materialize at the Geneva show.

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Toyota To Roll Out More Hybrids - Autotrader