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Toyota Introduces the New Prius Family

Maker unveils variety of new models that will share Prius name.

by on Jan.10, 2011

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda

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.