DETROIT –’s midsize Prius hybrid, which debuted in the U.S. in 2000, no longer is an only-child model as the auto maker shows off three new siblings at the North American International Auto Show here.
There now is a larger Prius-v, smaller Prius-c concept car and a hybrid plug-in vehicle that goes on sale in 14 East and West Coast states next year.
The Prius-v offers 50% more cargo space and is intended for growing families with active lifestyles, says Bob Carter, vice president and general manager-Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
“The ‘v’ is for versatility,” he says of the 5-seater that goes on sale this summer. “This car is full of surprises.”
Sliding second-row seats are designed for easier access. Also available is a Toyota first: a resin Panoramic View moonroof with power retractable sun shades.
The Prius-v is built on the same platform and uses the same hybrid system as the original Prius, the third generation of which was introduced in 2009.
The new model will be the first Toyota to offer the Entune multi-media system that Carter says offers more features “in a safe, user-friendly way than anything on the market.”
The Prius-c concept is for consumers interested in a compact hybrid at an entry-level price point, Carter says. “Some of our customers have asked for something smaller. This car is aimed at young singles who want an eco-drive.”
A production version of the car is scheduled to go on sale next year.
The Prius Plug-in can be driven 13 miles (21 km) on battery power at speeds up to 60 mph (96 km/h). The lithium-ion battery can be recharged in three hours. “For someone like me, who commutes seven miles (11 km) to work, the car can run on electricity only,” Carter says.
After the electric power is depleted, the vehicle performs like a conventional hybrid, with a powertrain alternately using electricity and gasoline.
“This is no ordinary family,” Carter says of the four vehicles on stage during the press preview. “It is a modern family, with a Prius for everyone.”
Toyota has sold about 1 million Prius vehicles since its U.S. introduction 11 years ago. Sales exceeded 15,000 units last month, the auto maker says.
Joining Carter on stage briefly is Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., who speaks of “a difficult year,” referring to the auto maker’s series of safety recalls, congressional hearings, lawsuits and in one case a passenger’s death.
But he vows Toyota will earn customer loyalty through “even greater dedication to quality, safety and customer care.”
Toyota has announced it will open a new Safety Research Center in Ann Arbor, MI, working with major universities and others on safety projects.
But a spokesman for AmericanMotor Co. Inc. says that auto maker opened a similar center seven years ago in Raymond, OH. “They are following us,” he says of Toyota.