Although Toyota's Auris -- essentially a Corolla hatchback -- is already on sale in Europe, the Japanese automaker will unveil a hybrid version at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show.
While technically a concept at this stage, this show car is reportedly a dead ringer for the production version due to launch in Europe early next year. Toyota says the Auris Hybrid will share its powertrain with the current Prius, which means we'll find a 1.8-liter I-4 mated to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive system underneath the five-door skin.
Toyota makes a number of other changes to the Auris in the name of improving fuel economy. The car has been lowered by an inch to reduce drag, and is fitted with smooth underbody panels, a solar roof panel, and low rolling resistance tires.
Although it seems odd to offer Prius equipment in a similar package, Toyota hopes to price the Auris Hybrid at a lower price point, making it more accessible to consumers on a budget. Perhaps more important, given the similarity of the Corolla to the Auris, we may eventually see a hybrid Corolla on our shores in the future.