Toyota Readies Subcompact Hybrid for 2011 Launch in Japan

Joshua Duval
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Rumors circulating in Japanese newspapers Tuesday suggest Toyota will launch an all-new Yaris-based hybrid subcompact hybrid in late 2011.

Asahi, a Japanese newspaper, reported the subcompact will be sold for about 1.5 million yen, or about $15,760. The vehicle will likely get its own sheetmetal, as Toyota feels that dedicated hybrids, like the Prius, sell far better than hybrid versions of existing vehicles.

Demand for hybrids is peaking in Japan, where the all-new 2010 Honda Insight was the best-selling car in April, and the redesigned 2010 Toyota Prius was the best-selling car in May. Toyota was forced to lower the price of Prius both in Japan and the U.S. to compete with the cheaper Insight. The new Toyota will compete with a rumored hybrid version of Honda’s Fit subcompact.

Toyota may also produce the new vehicle in France for sale in Europe. A spokeswoman for the company said she could not confirm the Asahi report, as Toyota only reveals product and production plans through official announcements.

Although we’re wary of the rumors, the basic premise seems sound. In order to make production of its hybrid system profitable--especially after lowering prices of the brand-new generation of the Prius--Toyota could use the technology in another vehicles. By building the vehicle on the Yaris platform, the automaker would realize the benefits from economies of scale.

Source: Reuters

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