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Report: 2016 Toyota Prius Delayed 6 Months To December 2015

The start of 2016 Toyota Prius production will be delayed about six months to December 2015, according to Automotive News. Toyota wants to ensure the next-generation hybrid car receives the development attention necessary before it goes on sale in 2016. Previously, the 2016 Toyota Prius was expected to begin production in spring 2015.

It remains unclear what caused the delay in the start of 2016 Toyota Prius production, but AN reports that Toyota won't even build its first "confirmation" prototype until November of this year and may be fine-tuning the car's powertrain. Those models typically precede a production car by about 12 months. After the regular hybrid launches in late 2015 or early 2016, AN reports that a plug-in hybrid version of the next-gen Prius will go into production in October 2016.

The 2016 Toyota Prius will be based on a new modular platform called Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA, which will reportedly cut the new car's weight by about 20 percent. That will help Toyota with its goal of improving the new Prius's fuel economy by 10 percent. Toyota is also reportedly debating whether to switch battery types for the new car. The current Toyota Prius (pictured) uses nickel metal hydride batteries, which are cheaper but heavier, but the new car could switch to lithium-ion batteries, which have better energy storage capabilities but cost significantly more.

Under the hood, the 2016 Toyota Prius will have a new gasoline engine that should be more efficient than today's model. It will reportedly have thermal efficiency -- a measure of how much energy is used for propulsion, rather than being wasted -- of 42 percent, compared to 38.5 percent for the current Prius's engine. Based on spy photos, the 2016 Toyota Prius will maintain the basic shape of the current car, but its interior will have a new dashboard design with higher-quality materials.

Expect more details on the 2016 Toyota Prius to emerge over the coming year before it enters production in late 2015.