If you ask where the Toyota Prius is at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show don’t be surprised if the response is, “Which one?”
Already the world’s best-selling hybrid-electric vehicle, Toyota plans to turn Prius into an even bigger presence, it confirmed Monday, by adding a variety of new models sharing the Toyota badge. That will soon include a roomy wagon, an affordable compact and a plug-in Prius, with still more models under considerations, Toyota officials said.
“Consumers convinced us to expand Prius into an all-new family,” said Bob Carter, Toyota brand boss, during a Cobo Hall news conference.
For Toyota, at least, the Prius nameplate has become almost interchangeable with hybrid – though not entirely. The maker plans to launch 11 new gas-electric models worldwide over the next 23 months, including seven entirely new offerings – only some of those destined to wear a Prius badge, stressed Carter, noting, “Each family member will be an all-new model.”
During the event Carter and Toyota Motor Co. CEO Akio Toyoda rolled out three models that fit the guidelines. That includes a long-discussed plug-in version of the current Prius. The lithium-ion-powered vehicle will be able to get 13 miles solely on battery power – compared to barely a mile for the current Prius. And it will be able to do so at speeds up to 60 mph compared with 25 for the standard hybrid.