Toyota Prius Alpha launches in Japan; delivery delays expected

has officially launched the Prius Alpha in Japan. Derived from the third-generation Prius hybrid, the Alpha offers seating for up to seven and is Toyota's first mass-produced hybrid with an available lithium-ion battery pack. Concurrent with the launch, Toyota announced that delays in delivering the Prius Alpha, due to the effects of the quake that shook Japan on March 11th, are to be expected.

The Prius Alpha is available in two interior configurations: a five-seat, two-row model and a seven-seat, three-row model. Only the seven-seat version gets the li-ion battery pack, though; the five-seater makes due with a more traditional NiMH unit.

The Prius Alpha is equipped with a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle engine and Toyota's Hybrid System II. The Japanese automaker claims that the Alpha's advanced aerodynamics and low weight enable a fuel efficiency rating of 26.2 kilometers per liter (61.6 miles per gallon U.S.) on Japan's JC08 test cycle.

Toyota has set a monthly sales target of 3,000 units for the Alpha. Pricing starts at 2,350,000 yen ($29,095 U.S. at the current exchange rate) and tops out at 3,305,000 yen ($40,919). The Alpha is the basis for the five-seat Prius V, which is scheduled to launch in North America this summer, and the seven-seat Prius +, which is expected to hit dealerships in Europe in mid-2012.

[Source: Toyota]
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TMC Launches 'Prius α'

Five and Seven Seat Models Aimed at Meeting Needs of Diverse Lifestyles

Toyota City, Japan, May 13, 2011-Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces the launch in Japan of the "Prius α"*1 (Prius alpha).

The Prius α, derived from the third-generation "Prius" hybrid, offers outstanding fuel efficiency and environmental performance realized through cutting-edge advances fostered by continuous hybrid research, as well as a comfortable interior available allowing multiple seat arrangements. All this represents new possibilities for adapting hybrid vehicles to meet the needs of diverse lifestyles.

The vehicle is available in two interior configurations: a five-seat, two-row model and a seven-seat, three-row model, the latter's third row allowed by a space-saving lithium-ion drive battery-a first for a Toyota-brand mass-produced hybrid vehicle-in the center console. The Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) in combination with outstanding aerodynamic form and low weight give the Prius α a fuel efficiency of 31.0 km/l, the highest level in its class*2.

TMC aims to enhance and expand its range of hybrid vehicles around the world with more Prius derivatives, such as the five-seat Prius α-based "Prius v"*3 planned for launch in North America this summer and the seven-seat Prius α-based "Prius +"*4 planned for launch in Europe in mid-2012.

Monthly sales target for Japan: 3,000 units

Assembly Plant: Tsutsumi Plant, Toyota Motor Corporation

Vehicle Outline (Some descriptions apply to select models/configurations only)

Advanced and Unique Design Creates a New Image for Hybrid Vehicles

The unique interior represents further refinement of the Prius triangle silhouette that has come to represent outstanding environmental performance, while providing both a roomy interior and excellent aerodynamic performance.

Renowned triangle silhouette combined with rear roof creates unique side silhouette and superior interior comfort

Characteristic oversized low grill combined with trapezoidal bumpers achieve refined front mask

"Aero corners" on both sides of bumper integrate with vertical turn signals to create clean, vibrant design while incorporating aerodynamic considerations and generating bold appearance

Combination taillights placed at far edge of vehicle expand cargo space area, creating stability and width

Design-line-separating rear door and refined body structure gives rear view clean, modern look

Available in eight exterior colors including new Clear Stream Metallic.

The horizontal instrument panel extends across the generous width of the interior, creating a sense of security. The dynamic architecture, encompassing the center console, the center cluster and instrumentation in one flowing form, creates a modern and stylized interior with an open feel.

A range of interior spatial innovations ranging from a horizontal instrument panel, an interior-opening concave door trim, and a well-defined center space between the console and cluster for connecting driver and passenger, deliver a sense of unprecedented spaciousness.

Driving controls are concentrated in an ornamental silver panel on the center cluster, creating visual depth. The navigation system, air conditioning, and other controls are clearly distinguished to improve visibility and ease of operation, and the iconic single-dial air-conditioning control consolidates functions to allow operation without changing driving position, thus emphasizing the vehicle's advanced nature.

User-Friendly and Spacious Interior

The seats are raised to enhance visibility in the 4,615 mm x 1,775 mm x 1,575 mm body, which gives the Prius α a comfortable and roomy interior with ample head clearance and plenty of legroom.

The front seats provide ample space for passengers up to 190 cm tall while the second-row can seat passengers up to 180 cm tall. In seven-seat models, the third row can seat passengers up to 170 cm tall.

The five-seat model offers 535 liters (VDA method) of cargo space, enough to stow four golf bags*5. The seven-seat model provides 200 liters of cargo space (under the VDA method), sufficient for a golf bag*5 even with seven passengers. Stowing away the third row increases storage space to the same level as the five-seat model.

Wide cargo space opening (1,105 mm) facilitates easy loading and unloading

Large and small storage trays below luggage deck have depths of 345 mm and 145 mm*6; large trays enable stowing of tall items, while use of two different trays enhances versatility

Class-Leading Fuel Efficiency of 31.0 km/l Mark of Outstanding Environmental Performance

The Prius α features the Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) with motor speed reduction gear and uses a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle engine. The combination of outstanding aerodynamic performance (0.29 drag coefficient) and low weight enable a fuel efficiency of 31.0 km/l in the 10-15 test cycle outlined by MLIT (equivalent to 75 g/km of CO2 emissions), or 26.2 km/l in MLIT's JC08 test cycle (equivalent to 89 g/km of CO2 emissions).

The vehicle exceeds the existing Japanese 2010 fuel efficiency standards by 25% and meets new 2015 Japanese fuel efficiency standards under the Law Concerning Rational Use of Energy. CO2 emissions are 75% lower than 2005 standards (Japan's strictest) under the MLIT approval system for low-emission vehicles, qualifying the Prius α for Japanese government tax reductions and subsidies for environment-friendly vehicles.

Key Hybrid System Specifications

Engine Model

1,797 cc

Maximum output
73 kW (99 PS)/5,200 rpm

Maximum torque
142 N-m (14.5 kgf-m)/4,000 rpm

Motor Maximum output
60 kW (82 PS)

Maximum torque
207 N-m (21.1 kgf-m)

Complete system Maximum output*
100 kW (136 PS)

Nickel-metal hydride (five-seat model)

(seven-seat model)

*Using both gas engine and electric motor power; based on TMC calculations

The Eco-Vehicle Assessment System (Eco-VAS), a unique environmental evaluation system developed by TMC, has been employed to reduce environmental impact, including CO2 emissions.

A review of materials, processing methods and adhesives used for interior parts has reduced the amount of volatile organic compounds, thereby reducing interior odors to levels below the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association's "Vehicle Cabin VOC Testing Methods for Passenger Cars" voluntary standards.

An Electric Vehicle (EV) driving indicator within the Hybrid System indicator is standard on all models. The indicator shows when the gas engine shuts down and the vehicle is powered by the electric motor only, thus giving the driver full awareness of the vehicle's performance.

The Electric Vehicle (EV) Drive Mode utilizes just the electric motor for extremely quiet cruising. This synergizes with the effective placement of sound-absorbing and vibration-controlling materials in combination with an aerodynamic body to achieve outstanding noise reduction.

New Technologies Create Advanced Comfort Features

A large resin panoramic roof, a first for a TMC vehicle, is 40% lighter than a glass equivalent and enhances the interior's sense of openness. A switch-operated electronic roll shade linked to the door locks can be operated even from outside the vehicle.

Three often-used functions-temperature setting, air flow adjustment, and air vent orientation-are integrated into a single-dial air-conditioning control, standard on all models, enhancing operability and creating a simple yet refined design.

A millimeter wave radar senses vehicles ahead, while the radar cruise control with braking function measures the speed of the vehicle in front for maintaining a constant distance.

The Steering-assisted Vehicle Stability Control (S-VSC) system coordinates and controls electric power steering, brake control (including anti-lock brake and vehicle stability control), and traction control to allocate drive power in the direction of vehicle movement while augmenting steering torque.

The six Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbags consist of the driver and passenger seat airbags, side airbags that reduce impact to the torso, and curtain-shield airbags that reduce impact to the head. Three-point seatbelts with an emergency locking retractor are standard on all models.

The millimeter wave radar allows for the detection of objects in the vehicle's path, and in the case of a high risk of collision, the Pre-Crash Safety System warning buzzer and display alert the driver. Based on collision likelihood, the system also controls the Pre-Crash Brake Assist system, Pre-Crash Brakes, and Pre-Crash seatbelts to minimize damage.

Due to the vehicle's quietness of operation at certain speeds, a proximity-alarm-standard on all models-sounds to warn pedestrians and others in the vicinity to the vehicle's presence.

Welcabs: Specially equipped vehicles with factory-installed features for the disabled

The Lift-up Front Passenger Seat model features an SRS airbag-equipped front passenger seat that slides down and to the outside of the vehicle to facilitate ingress and egress. Switches to slide and recline the seat are on both sides of the seat, allowing operation from the driver's seat. In addition, rear-seat legroom is maintained by reducing the size of the lift-up mechanism.

Lift-up Front Passenger Seat with arm rest (left side only)*7 also available

Type B version comes with motorized device for loading and unloading wheelchairs

Friendmatic models allow for the installation of a specialized driver's seat equipped with special power steering that reduces the force necessary for steering, enhancing operability during initial acceleration and at low speeds.

The Friendmatic Type II model is equipped with a remote-controlled driver's seat with seat-lowering function that facilitates moving into and out of a wheelchair.

All Welcab models meet the requirements for tax reductions for environment-friendly vehicles, resulting in reduced automobile acquisition and weight taxes*8.

*1Differs in Hokkaido and Okinawa and excludes recycling fees and consumption tax; Welcab Friendmatic model (Type I) is subject to taxes only when designated driver-assist equipment is not installed at the time of purchase; *2When equipped with Touring Selection grade features

*1Uses the Greek "α" and means to hint at the provision of even greater value
*2Under the 10-15 test cycle of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and 26.2 km/l under the JC08 test cycle, in comparison with compact minivan-class vehicles with similar engine displacement
*3"v" represents "versatility"
*4"+" represents "more features"
*5Depending on size
*6Five-seat model fitted with large and small tray; seven-seat model fitted with one large tray only (the spare-tire -option five-seat model is fitted with two small trays, and the spare-tire-option seven-seat model is fitted with one small tray only)
*7Not equipped with SRS side air bags
*8Vehicle may not qualify for reduced taxes, or the reduction may vary, depending on the weight measured during the vehicle inspection by license-plate-issuing authority

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