This isn't the first time we've heard that Toyota might spin off the Prius as a separate brand much like Scion. But we now have the most concrete news about the automaker's plans we've seen yet.

Micheline Maynard of The New York Times talked with James E. Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. recently who said he was actively lobbying Toyota for the Prius brand spinoff and that the company was working on future models to expand the lineup. Lentz said he was pushing for a Yaris-sized Prius and a "Prius on steroids." He wouldn't comment on rumors of a Prius crossover, however. Lentz also said the new line would be sold alongside Toyota vehicles instead of separately like the company's Lexus brand.

When might this new Prius brand be approved by Toyota? Lentz would only say that he has a meeting in Japan next month.

Maynard writes that in all her years covering Toyota, "...I can say that executives rarely talk this much about an idea unless it is under active discussion, so the chances of a Prius brand are probably pretty good."

[Source: The New York Times]