• May 24, 2011
2012 Toyota Prius V – Click above for high-res image gallery

This fall, Toyota's U.S. Prius lineup will expand with the addition of a five-seat wagon: the Prius V. However, word is that the Japanese automaker could eventually launch a seven-seat hybrid vehicle – one not built on the existing Prius platform – in the U.S.

According to Toyota division group vice president and general manager, Bob Carter, the automaker is considering a seven-seat Prius-branded model. Though Toyota already sells a seven-seat version of the Prius V in Japan – called the Prius Alpha – Carter says the seven-seat model under consideration for the U.S. would be a different vehicle.

The third-row seats in the Prius Alpha offer little usable room and robs the hybrid of cargo space. However, Carter says the U.S. model, if it's ever built, would address those shortfalls by offering true seating for seven and room for tons of stuff. That certainly sounds like a fitting description for a hybrid minivan.

Although a seven-seat Prius model seems likely, Carter says that, as of right now, "there is nothing in the hopper." However, over the next 20 months, ten all-new or redesigned hybrids will join Toyota's global portfolio of vehicles, so we'll keep our ears open.

Photos copyright 2011 Zach Bowman / AOL

[Source: Edmunds Auto Observer]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      It'd be a winner. 7 seats and hybrid efficiency? I'm in. Minivans aren't even good at handling anyway, so it seems like a great application for a numb-driving super efficient cargo/people schlepping box. Toyota took away the Previa platform in the mid '90s, but still produces it for JDM (Estima) in a hybrid version. This is larger than the upcoming Alpha, but smaller than the JDM equivalent of the Sienna (which is ultra-luxe upscale Alphard) I wouldn't be too surprised to see a re-appearance of whatever the Previa platform has evolved into over there.
      • 3 Years Ago
      They need to go the other way and make a small plug-in hybrid 2 seater. Maybe convertible. Also a plug-in pick-up truck would be nice.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's the Prius C. Smaller, sportier and more fuel efficient. This is the unit I'm more interested.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It would be nice to see the Sienna get sized down a bit, maybe to between its current size and that of the Alpha. Todays minivans are not so mini, in size, weight, price or fuel consumption. Making it fuel efficient would be great.
      • 3 Years Ago
      A "Hybridized" Sienna would be too big. Really something akin to the Mazda 5 or Ford Grand C-Max would be great. For me, the back row would not be used regularly. There is only occasional need to carry more than five people and when I need to carry that many people I almost never have to take that much cargo along. Its usually for taking the family out to a restaurant or family function where it is a pain to take two cars. The Mazda 5 would be perfect but the 2.5 litre 4 under the hood is too big and Mazda does not seem to care about hybrid propulsion or alternative power-trains of any sort (beyond their niche rotary engines if they even still make those). Ford talks about bringing a the Grand C-Max to North America, but the 7 passenger version won't get the hybrid power-trains. Still, if they offer it with the 1.6L turbo 4, it is worthy of consideration. VW could pull out from behind and bring one of their minivans from Europe over mated with a TDI. That would be a slam dunk in my books. Instead they give us the Routan which is a sad joke. Their loss. GM is still in the offing with the Voltec platform. There have been lots of rumours of GM producing a bigger Volt. If they produced something MPV like, that would be the one to beat so long as electric only range remained decent. Gas prices are only going up. Most families live in auto dependent suburbs....often because that is where housing is most affordable. These vehicles have a market. Yes, they are a little smaller than what most Americans are used to, but do you think Europeans prefer to be cramped? They've paid more for gas for longer than Americans have. They know there are trade offs for fuel economy. I am sure Americans will come to the same conclusions when they see the price of gas only continue to go up. Whoever comes to market first and makes early inroads will stand to own much of it. Somebody just needs the courage to be first.