When Toyota gets around to launching additional body styles to the Prius lineup next year, the first model – a compact MPV – is expected to be badged as Alpha. The small van based on stretched version of the current Prius will add a third row of seats and should be the first production Toyota hybrid with a lithium ion battery pack. Toyota is currently testing a fleet of plug-in Priuses with lithium batteries, but those won't be going into production until 2012.
The seven-seat Alpha is expected to be about one foot longer than the current Prius hatchback. A shorter, five-seat version of the Alpha that may look similar to the Hybrid-X concept from 2007 is expected to retain the nickel-metal hydride batteries of the current Prius to keep costs down. The Prius Alpha is expected to launch in March 2011