• May 24th 2010 at 7:01PM
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Toyota Hybrid-X concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

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

[Source: Motor Trend]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota can use the rear hatch airbag introduced in iQ. Prius has a lot of leg room for the 2nd row so adding the 3rd row with additional foot is plausible.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes -- I'm a Prius driver with a small child, and we rented a Grand Marquis on a recent trip. Guess which vehicle had more room for the carseat? It was a wash, actually -- that big massive boat of a vehicle that required a V8 to move had about the same amount of room between the back seat and the front seat as our tiny little Prius.

        To be fair, the seats in the Grand Marquis are a lot wider -- but, despite the weight we've gained as new parents, the seat-width in the Prius is sufficient, even with the baby-seat in the middle of the backseat. The seats in the Prius are enough that we can stuff gramma, grandad, and baby into the car for a trip across town, and my wife and I have taken turns in the back seat during a 12-hour drive. Even after that trip, the idea that we should upgrade to a bigger vehicle just doesn't pass muster -- especially after that 18mpg land-yacht didn't offer us any benefits that we care about.

        However, something like this bigger Prius-like vehicle might be a good fit for us, when we have our next kid. We do use the full capabilities (seating and gross weight) of the from time-to-time Prius now, so adding another person to the family may make another vehicle a necessity. But, considering that one child hasn't really changed our transportation-needs, our little old Prius may last a lot longer than we thing.

        P.S. I was impressed by how low the idle fuel-consumption was for the Grand Marquis, for a non-hybrid. For any midwesterner faced with the prospect of breastfeeding in public in muggy tropical air, you will understand how much being able to let the car idle and run the A/C was appreciated.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have driven a 1995 Mitsubishi Expo microvan since 2000. It can seat two big people and five or six small ones easily, which is exactly what I need it for if I want to cart around my nieces and nephews. The seats fold flat to take my dogs and luggage on trips, or bring home most any item of furniture. I get decent gas mileage and parts/repairs are reasonable. I'd love to see vehicles like this made in the USA but its a niche market of really practical people that they would be sold to.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am waiting for the 2012 prius type van to be on the market. I am always hauling something somewhere. I have had several t&c vans and have been satisfied except for the mpg. I AM READY TO SWITCH.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if the FT-CH is in this mix?

      Sincerely, Neil
      • 5 Years Ago
      Doesn't seem a big challenge to me. The Prius as it is is pretty long, you just need to raise the roof a bit, which is mostly air, and then stash the batteries under the seats to create the legroom. Not a significant alteration to the basic body of the car. And I'm not sure how two people in the back add 1000 pounds-- 350 lbs. for the people and 100 net addition for the seat vs. the existing trunk compartment setup, maybe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Don't worry about Toyota, I think they have done their homework.
        • 5 Years Ago
        if they have they are not applying it. certainly far from top notch decisions they are making.
        lithium is obvious yet they have fought against that. plugin is obvious and they have fought against that. light weight materials is obvious but all the world is so oblivious to that that toyota hasn't even been prompted to fight that.

        toyota is full retard like the rest of them. it's just random variations on a topic. bumbling suits. headless chickens

        ultra light ultra aerodynamic battery electrics with tiny ultra refined 2 cylinder range extenders. when toyota does that they will have caught up to the obvious. if not for the whoops ass coming with peak oil I'd say they would get there in about 20 years. maybe.
        peak oil will focus their 'minds' but it will probably still take them 10 years to do even the obvious. they are full blown retards or worse. in bed with evil, intentionally fighting reason.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Very good. Neptronix. It explains the brief periods of lucidity between the nonsensical rants.
        • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      7 seats in a car that's 1 foot longer than the Prius?

      Sounds pretty cramped to me, especially with the kammback design.
      I'm betting they'd have to uprate the powertrain of the car, since carrying ~1000lbs worth of people is certainly not an easy task on the highway, where you're out of the electric motor's torque availability for sure.

      Yeah, i dunno how they're gonna pull this off. At least for the North American market.
        • 5 Years Ago
        There are lots of cars whose third row disappears when it comes to the USA, the land of the bloated and supersized. The Japanese domestic market Mazda 5 is available with seven seats at only 4565 mm, only 5 inches (105 mm) longer than the Prius. The Toyota Wish minivan is about the same size and you can get it with seven seats; there are many others. But there's no word about Toyota bringing this to the USA anyway.

        Minivan MPG is atrocious in the USA, it's crazy you can get better MPG by buying a tall fat ugly hybrid SUV. On the other hand, since families all buy SUVs instead of the minivan they actually need, I'm not sure of the demand.

        The story image appears to be a photochop fantasy but looks inoffensively vaguely attractive. Before anyone comments, ABG used a random image of an old Toyota hybrid concept that has NOTHING to do with this model.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think the thing is, gas is so cheap here, that you might as well get a larger, more comfortable vehicle rather than a cramped one. Americans tend to be taller, and we most likely drive longer distances for longer periods of time ( Japan is pretty small ), so comfort is important for that reason too. CAFE laws will change this, i'm sure.

        Oh, they also have heavy displacement taxes out there from what i know, so a hemi dodge caravan certainly wouldn't sell out there :)

        I dunno, i would say a car of this size with 7 seats would be in the higher bracket of uncomfortable.. per Neil, i doubt they have the backwards seat configuration.. haven't seen that in a USDM spec car for a long time. I'm thinking it's a safety thing.

        Yeah, the mini-minivan ( MPV? ) segment is certainly lacking, it probably has a lot to do with gas prices. I myself would prefer a 7 seater wagon... maybe those will see a comeback..
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maybe the rear-most 2 seats face the back?
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