As Toyota showcased a prototype of its highly anticipated new RAV4 EV at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, on the other side of the ocean, executives made a series of intriguing new announcements about its electric-drive vehicles.
Perhaps the most striking news is that the automaker plans to release 11 new or redesigned hybrid models by the end of 2012. The company currently sells eight hybrids in the United States—split between the Toyota and Lexus nameplates—and in September repeated its commitment to releasing six new models by 2012.
While word of 11 new and redesigned gas-electric vehicles doesn’t necessarily translate to the release of any more new models than we already knew about, there will likely be a total of at least 14 Toyota hybrids on the market soon.
One of the new releases will be a small hybrid with fuel economy the company says exceeds 40 km/L—equating to a whopping 94 mpg in Japanese testing. It’s too early to know how that will translate to U.S. standards, except that its mileage will likely beat all other current hybrids.
Another new model will be the 7-seat Prius V (sometimes called Prius MPV), which Toyota teased recently on its Facebook page, providing a photo of the MPV’s center console to satiate fans after a “leaked photo” that circulated on the web last month was shown to be a fake. The real Prius V will debut in January at the Detroit Auto Show.
Though Toyota didn’t provide any further details about the Prius V yesterday in Tokyo, Nikkei reports several other interesting tidbits from the event:
- The company plans to price its diminutive iQ-based EV to dip below the 4 million yen price tag carried by competitors like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Though it’s unclear how it will be priced for U.S. consumers, the price point directly converts to somewhere in the mid-$40,000 range. The car will begin road trials in the United States next year.
- Pricing for the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will be in the 3 million yen ($36,000) range when that car is released in Japan in 2012. The carmaker says its sales targets for the plug-in hybrid will amount to more than 50,000 vehicles per year globally.
- Toyota still plans to release a fuel cell hybrid in Japan sometime around 2015. The automaker has managed to get the cost for the vehicle below 10 million yen (or $120,000), and says it expects to lower that number further as production nears.
- The company reiterated its commitment to next-generation battery development, saying that it continues to invest in solid-state and metal-air battery research, promising major breakthroughs in energy storage and power. These new technologies—very much still in the research stage—could mean batteries that are smaller, lighter, and capable of allowing electric cars to travel for 500 miles on a single charge.