When Toyota gets around to expanding its Prius line-up next year, the first model to benefit from the badge will be a compact MPV reportedly badged the Alpha. The small van will apparently be based on a stretched version of the current Prius platform, 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 Prius hybrids with lithium batteries, but those aren't slated for production until 2012.
The seven-seat Alpha is expected to be about one foot longer than the current Prius hatchback, while a shorter, five-seat version of the Alpha that may look similar to the Hybrid-X concept from 2007 and could retain the nickel-metal hydride batteries of the current Prius to keep costs down. If all goes according to plan, expect the Prius Alpha to launch around March of next year.