Late last month, the Japanese newspaper Asahi reported that Toyota is working on a new subcompact hybrid based on its Yaris platform to compete with an upcoming hybrid version of the Honda Fit. Yesterday, a second Japanese paper revealed more details about Toyota's purported new hybrid.
According to Yomiuri Shimbun, the new vehicle will be priced at about 1.5 million yen (about $15,500), matching figures previously suggested by Asahi. Yomiuri Shumbun also reported that the hybrid will be built with key components from the Yaris, and will get twice the fuel economy of the subcompact. The newspaper would not reveal its sources.
The 2009 Toyota Yaris gets a maximum combined fuel economy rating of 32 miles per gallon when equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission. Toyota's hybrid technology, Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is the most popular hybrid technology used in passenger cars today, helps the Prius achieve a combined fuel economy rating of 50 mpg. It's not hard to imagine Toyota eking out 60 mpg or more from a Yaris-based hybrid employing the Prius technology.
Toyota will likely stray away from simply dropping hybrid technology into the existing Yaris, as research has shown that hybrids sell better when they have their own nameplates. Vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu hybrid, Honda Civic hybrid, and even the new Ford Fusion hybrid have been unable to match the success of the Prius, which has partially been attributed to the fact that the Prius is a unique nameplate.
A Toyota spokeswoman told Automotive News that she could not discuss future product plans. According to both Asahi and Yomiuri Shimbun, Toyota's new hybrid will go on sale sometime in 2011.
Source: Automotive News