For more than year, we’ve heard rumors and hints about a family of Priuses. But we haven’t had any details about what a Toyota Prius SUV, minivan or compact car would look like—until now. Motor Trend is reporting that a slightly stretched Prius—badged as Alpha—is in the works.
Calling the model a minivan is a slight exaggeration. The Prius Alpha is just one foot longer than the current Prius. It’s hard to imagine, but that extra foot apparently will allow for a third row of seats.
According to the report, the Prius Alpha is expected to launch in March 2011, presumably only in Japan (where hybrids are hot sellers.)
The new model would feature lithium ion batteries, marking the first Toyota production hybrid to use the lighter weight more powerful battery technology. The Prius Alpha seven-seater would use the Prius’s 1.8-litre engine and current-generation hybrid system. The maximum combined power output will be 135 horsepower—but given the extra size and weight, the new model’s fuel economy will likely fall below 50 MPG.