Detroit auto show: Toyota adds new models to Prius range
After what could best be described as a “challenging year” for Toyota, particularly in the US, the Japanese firm has unveiled a new family of hybrid models, creating what it calls an enlarged Prius family.
The new Prius V is a five-seater family car with nearly 1,000 litres of bootspace, up 50 per cent increase on the current Prius model. The car is powered by a 1.8-litre 98bhp petrol engine combined with an 80bhp electric motor.
Due to go on sale this summer in the US, it’s unlikely to make it to Irish forecourts before the end of 2012, but it signifies the start of a major hybrid offensive by the brand. According to Bob Carter, head of Toyota US, the brand will introduce 11 new models to its hybrid line-up in the next 23 months, seven of which will be entirely new.
An indication of what else will come after the Prius V was the Prius C Concept, a small supermini hybrid that is due to go into production – with probably limited market access initially – in the first half of 2012.
For Irish buyers, the first of this onslaught of new or revised hybrids is likely to be the hybrid version of the Auris hatchback, followed by the plug-in Prius that has already been on extensive trials in Ireland for several months.
The new models brings offers some welcome good news for the brand after last year’s recall woes that saw it feature on the front pages of the US media for all the wrong reasons. The Detroit show also market the first appearance of company president Akio Toyoda since he was a guest on the Larry King Live show in the US at the height of the controversy. Speaking today a Detroit he said: “Let me promise you that all of us at Toyota are determined to continue earning the trust and confidence of American consumers and the American community.”
Despite the publicity Toyota remains the major non-domestic brand in the US market. Toyoda said: “We are all honoured and humbled that Toyota was the number one “retail” brand in the US last year, regaining the highest consideration among customers.