Toyota Yaris Sucompact Full Hybrid Unveiled in Geneva

A couple of weeks ago, we described the battle between Honda and Toyota for the emerging small hybrid segment. Compacts with battery packs and motors could become the most affordable and highest MPG cars on the road—pushing hybrid technology deep into the mainstream market. Yet, the $19,200 Honda Insight and $20,000 Honda CR-Z are the closest cars so far to attempt a grab of the entry-level affordable compact hybrid market.

Toyota wants those cost- and fuel-conscious customers, especially in Europe where small cars rule. The company debuted the Toyota Yaris Hybrid at this week’s 2011 Geneva Motor Show—showing that it intends to downsize its proven full hybrid technology. The Yaris Hybrid is expected to go on sale in Europe next year. It’s still too early to know if it will come to the United States.

While Honda will utilize a mild form of gas-electric technology for its small hybrids, Toyota’s system is a full hybrid capable of moving the car down the road on electricity alone. According to Toyota, the company plans to bring full hybrid technology to all of its European models in the next decade. “Two years ago, 8 percent of European customers said they wanted their next vehicle to be a hybrid,” said Didier Leroy, President of Toyota Motor Europe. “Today that figure has doubled, to 16 percent.”

Unlike Honda’s existing mild hybrid technology–which might be a more immediate fit for small cars—Toyota engineers will need to work on packaging its electric system into a smaller space. That could mean reducing the size and weight of the battery pack used in current models. All systems will have to be optimized for the smaller format.

To help draw attention to the unassuming Yaris hybrid subcompact concept on display in Geneva, Toyota applied a solar panel to its roof. The solar panel could help power the car’s air-conditioning, making a modest improvement in overall fuel efficiency.


  • test

    Is there a reason that Honda will not just make the old Insight, the one that got 62 mpg? It seems to me that if people want a small, cheap hybrid vehicle that gets great gas mileage, that the old Insight would blow out everything in the current market.

  • pat

    This Yaris is one of the nicest looking car Toyota produce in the recent year!

  • Pat

    My 17 year old daughter will dying to buy one!

  • Indigo

    While I’m glad that Toyota has (finally) decided to make s less expensive hybrid, I doubt they’ll beat the price on the Insight-II. They’ll likely dumb-down the Yaris hybrid so that it won’t cannibalize the Prius sales.

  • Lost Prius to wife

    I don’t know if Toyota will “dumb-down” the Yaris. Not everybody is going to want a small car. That is why Toyota is adding to the Prius line. Also, I believe both the Yaris and the Honda Fit hybrid will be priced under the Prius, Insight II, and the CR-Z. It does look like a neat car to drive. We will just have to see what the final specifications are.

  • DrewVincent

    I’m still driving my old Honda Insight (Citrus Yellow) still getting 60-70 mpg with nearly 250,000 miles on her. It’s a 2000 people, why haven’t we moved forward, why don’t we have cars that can do better 11-012 years later? – Drew

  • wiley

    there is a standard answer to all disturbing questions concerning the US economy ” why can,t we have the most fuel efficient cars ” why did diesel fuel suddenly become much more expensive than gasoline, NAFTA and WTO , the answer is a devious plan to destroy our economy and eventualy our country. the price of diesel fuel directly affects everything we buy

  • Anonymous

    Agreed!

  • wiley williams

    bulls**t

  • wiley

    disregard the bulls**t comment, this standard answer covers any really “stupid” so called decisions made by our federal govt

  • Anonymous

    Will it have the lithium battery in the Prius+ debuted in Geneva?

  • john mag

    Tell em Wiley ! That`s one of the major problems in this country…DENIAL

  • Shines

    Wiley I don’t think you know what you are talking about. This site is about Hybrid cars, not some lame fear that the US economy is being corrupted by a government conspiracy. Do I think the US economy may be heading for a decline? Yes, but this is not the forum for that discussion. In reply to your response – this is not the forum for that discussion.
    john mag – it’s not denial – this is not the forum for that discussion.

  • AP

    I’m glad manufacturers like Toyota, Ford and Honda are still pushing small, conventional hybrids. They seem to get it: pushing MPG by using smart technology in smaller cars is the most practical way to reduce emissions–and practical means more people will use these cars. The technology is proven, reliable, and can get MPG’s way north of 50 and even 60 consistently–we know this from the current Prius and old Insight. Plug-ins use lithium cells, with unproven reliability, and will draw their electricity mostly from coal, which is dirtier than gas.

  • wiley

    someone tell me why, when a very efficient car comes around , it is available in europe 2 or 3 years before the US

  • rom

    Toyota, build the damn thing already and get over the idea that Americans won’t buy a compact hybrid. I’ve owned 2 toyotas. The first I drove for 14 years, the second, my current Rav4 for 11. I need a smaller car this time around and I’m hoping Toyota is the one to bring me a comp. hybrid. But I may end up behind the wheel of a Honda if they drag their heels. Depends on when my Rav gives up the ghost. Clock is ticking.

  • Anonymous

    Honda Insight’s base model starts at $ 18,200. If people start buying Insight, then Toyota will bring this Yaris Hybrid to USA.

  • Nelson Lu

    The old “62 MPG” first-generation Insight probably cannot meet today’s safety regulations. Not to mention, using the current EPA formula, it would be rated at 47 MPG, making it stick out like a sore thumb next to the much bigger Prius.

  • Nelson Lu

    Rom, the Ford C-Max Hybrid should have about as small of a footprint as a Civic Hybrid, have the same mileage, and have much, much larger interior room. Why bother with a Honda? (Not to mention, the C-Max will be available as a plug-in hybrid as well…)

  • Nelson Lu

    Specifically, about the footprint; the Civic is 177 in. * 69 in.; the C-Max is one inch longer and three inches wider.

  • wiley

    I would like to see the vw polo bluemotion given a chance to sell in the US

  • Anonn

    1. Nelson Lu, What evidence do you have in saying “The old “62 MPG” first-generation Insight probably cannot meet today’s safety regulations”?

    The 2000 Honda Insight is rated four star in NHTSA frontal crash test for both driver and front passenger, same as a 2000 Ford Focus sedan.
    The 2001 Honda Insight is rated four star for the driver in side impact test while a 2001 Ford Focus is rated “three” star only.

    2. Your information is incorrect.
    According to Fueleconomy.gov, a 2000 Honda Insight is rated (in accordance with 2008 EPA rating) 49/61 city/hwy, 53 combined.
    A 2011 Toyota Prius is rated 51/48, 50 combine only, three mpg lower than a 2000 Insight.

    3. The Ford Grand C-max(i.e. called C-max by Ford in the U.S.) in the UK is ten inches taller than a Honda Civic sedan. It is a ‘minivan’ in Europe.

    4. The new 2012 Honda Civic hybrid is expected to have combined 45 mpg EPA rating.

  • Nelson Lu

    Take a look at the *2006* Insight’s numbers. That’s the last model year of the first generation Insight. And, the C-Max Hybrid/Energi is not the Grand C-Max.

  • Nelson Lu

    Specifically, see this:

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/2008car1tablef.jsp?column=1&id=21631

    That’s where I’m getting my 47 MPG numbers from. Where did the reduced fuel efficiency (as compared to the 2000 model)? Safety regulations. And since 2006, additional safety regulations have been added to add, for example, ESC. This means that you really can’t say “let’s reintroduce the 2000 Insight!” The 2000 Insight *as it was* would be unable to meet the current, 2011, safety regulations even if it was considered acceptable back in 2000. (The comparison to 2000 Focus is irrelevant; I do not claim that the 2000 Focus can pass the 2011 safety regulations either, and it in all likelihood cannot; I don’t think it has ESC or side-impact airbags, in particular.)

    Not to mention that to compete with “modern” hybrids, the original Insight has to not only add safety equipment but also other convenience features that current drivers would want. Again, that means more weight and less fuel efficiency. It makes no sense to compare the 2000 Insight’s numbers to the current ones. The 2011 Prius is getting 50 MPG despite having to comply with these safety regulations and customer demands; there is no way that the original Insight ever could. The C-Max Hybrid, on the other hand, as a new hybrid, will have these demands in mind.

    As far as the claim that the next Civic Hybrid will get 45 MPG, I’ll believe it when I see it. Honda has, over the last few years, underdelivered on its hybrid promises. Whatever fault Ford has had, that’s not one of its issues in marketing. You don’t have to, but I believe Ford means what it says when it says that the C-Max Hybrid will get significantly better mileage than the current Fusion Hybrid. If that is the case, it will come close, if not match, the 45 MPG claimed by Honda. Again, with the same footprint and the much larger interior space, there is no good reason to opt for the Civic Hybrid over the C-Max Hybrid, particularly if the plug-in makes sense for your own home environment and driving pattern.

  • Anonn

    Lu, see this http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/2008car1tablef.jsp?id=21632 (adjusted for 2008 EPA mpg revision)

    EPA rating for 2006 Honda Insight, 48/58 city/hwy, combined 52 mpg.

    It is still 2 mpg better than a 2011 Prius.

    Specifically, what safety regulations were implemented between 2000 and 2006 that, in your mind, affects Honda Insight’s fuel economy?

    BTW, EPA rating for Ford Fusion 2.3 A5 dropped from 21/29 (2006) to 20/28 (2009), a drop of 5% and 3.4% respectively; 3.0 A6 dropped from 18/27 (2006) to 18/26 (2009), a drop of 4%. Also safety regulations?

  • Lewis Reford

    The PV glass roof on the Yaris is not simply a marketing gimmick. My company Asola GmbH is making a big push into low-voltage PV automotive sunroofs and glass roofs. With the bigger surface area of certain North American trucks/SUV’s, there’s a real opportunity to make heating/cooling systems less reliant on battery/alternator power.

  • Nelson Lu

    Anonn, I think it’s up to you at this point to *provide another explanation for the Insight’s fuel-effiency drop*, if you don’t think it’s safety regulations. And if it isn’t, are you claiming that Honda’s technology *deteriorated* between 2000 and 2006? That’s hardly an endorsement of Honda’s engineering capabilities. (But as far as safety regulations are concerned, one thing that comes to mind is side-impact airbags.) Besides, the 2011 Prius is so much bigger and usable that if you really put forth the argument “but the Insight I gets 2 MPG more!” you’re going to get laughed out of the marketplace. I remember I once took a photo of my Fusion Hybrid parked next to a Smart fortwo. Yeah, they might get similar mileage. But when they are juxtaposed, the comparative uselessness of the Smart becomes evidence. The situation is the same with the Prius and the Insight I.

    Besides, you are comparing the manual — and not a particularly good-driving manual, in the first place — to the automatic (CVT) in the Prius. *The take rates on manual transmissions are steadily dropping* across all segments of the auto industry. If the only way that Honda can improve fuel efficiency is by forcing everyone into manual transmissions again, it’s going to be dropped by consumers.

    As far as the Fusion’s drop, again, I think the fact that side-impact airbags were introduced had something to do with it. Greater weight — which safety equipment requires — means reduced fuel efficiency. In any case, Ford compensated by introducing a more efficient engine in the 2010. I don’t see Honda making any similar countermoves. Essentially, Honda needs to make a major improvement in its hybrid powertrain; so far, in the last few years, it’s been coming up empty, while Nissan and GM have caught up and Toyota and Ford (and potentially Hyundai) have gone way past it. It’s time for Honda to step up to the plate and counter the other automakers, and I am seeing no sign that it is ready to do so.

  • Nelson Lu

    In any case, I am amazed at the comparison of the comments made in the discussion of the Volkswagen article, calling Volkswagen a failure, &c. Maybe Volkswagen’s hybrid offerings are/will be failures. But given how close Volkswagen’s projected fuel-efficiency numbers are to Honda’s, what does that say about Honda?

  • Anonn

    Lu, what’s Ford C-max hybrid’s estimated EPA combined mileage? Will it be any where close to that of 2011 Prius?

    The Ford C-max in the UK is still almost 8 inches higher than a 2011 Honda Civic hybrid. By some estimates, the Ford C-max hybrid will probably be no lighter than 3,400 lb.

  • Annon

    Lu said: “Anonn, I think it’s up to you at this point to *provide another explanation for the Insight’s fuel-effiency drop*”

    Em… I think anyone who went thru high school science with passing grade should understand that it is you to prove your hypothesis is valid, not the other way round, for me to disprove what you hypothesized.

    Lu said: “As far as the Fusion’s drop, again, I think the fact that side-impact airbags were introduced had something to do with it. Greater weight — which safety equipment requires — means reduced fuel efficiency.”

    Oh, yeah. I almost forgot that those Ford Fusion without side airbags only got “poor” rating in IIHS’s side impact test. (BTW, Honda has equipped side curtain airbag STANDARD to vehicles from Fit to Accord back in 2006.) Those Fusion built before 2007 1/2 model with side curtain airbag are still rated “acceptable” in IIHS side impact test. It took Ford the third try to finally ‘fix’ it.

  • Anonn

    Lu: If you are seriously considering Ford C-max, why don’t you think about Mazda5? It starts below 20 grand. It is available with a similar 2.5L engine and 6 speed auto transmission. It is 1/2 an inch lower.
    Unlike C-max, it is available now, no need to wait for another year and I doubt Ford would price it as low as Mazda.

  • Anonn

    Lu said: “Besides, you are comparing the manual … to the automatic (CVT) in the Prius”
    Let me remind you it was Josh (the 1st post) that brought up the “62 mpg” old Insight, and it was you who wrongly stated “using the current EPA formula, it would be rated at 47 MPG”.
    Last but not least, I think it was you who was the first to try to compare the original Insight with the Prius.

  • Anonn

    Lu said: “I remember I once took a photo of my Fusion Hybrid parked next to a Smart fortwo. Yeah, they might get similar mileage. But when they are juxtaposed, the comparative uselessness of the Smart becomes evidence.”

    It is now time for Americans to realise BIGGER does not necessarily mean better, see ACEEE’s greenest vehicles of 2011: Smart is rated the third greenest behind Honda Civic GX and Leaf. Where is your Ford Fusion hybrid on the list? To get a high EPA mileage by jamming a large battery into the vehicle is not necessary the most efficient/greenest solution. Sigh, poor Americans they won’t understand ‘small is beautiful’.

  • Nelson Lu

    Can you say “subcompacts don’t fit everyone’s needs?”. I know you can. (It’s because of that the list you cited makes absolutely no sense.)

    I drive an 85-mile commute that goes over high, windy mountain pass. You really think that it’s advisable to drive the Smart in this situation? My safest, while not being overly wasteful, alternative is a midsize – one that has more power than the 134 hp Prius – and the Fusion Hybrid provided the best economy among those.

    As for families, they can’t fit well into *any* of Honda’s hybrids well no matter how you squeeze them. It makes more fuel economy-sense to drive a Highlander Hybrid, for example, than 2-3 of those allegedly green Honda hybrids, which is what you’d need to do to transport the entire family.

    Sure, if you only drive in the city and not very far, a Honda hybrid may be sufficient – but then, your best car from a fuel-economy sense is really going to be a Nissan Leaf, a Chevrolet Volt, of a Ford Focus EV, not a Honda.

  • Nelson Lu

    And, Anonn, no one is stopping you from driving one of those technically-inferior Hobda hybrid compacts/subcompacts. Leaves the better cars for the rest of us who actually have a life.

  • mike L

    I would much rather see a hybrid Venza.

  • Anonymous

    @Nelson Lu:

    Ha. May be it is now time for you to be updated, rather than sticking your head in the sand.

    Fact:
    - in 2010, more Honda Insight were sold than Ford Fusion hybrid;
    - and the current trend doesn’t look well for Ford Fusion hybrid:
    Feb sales, YTD sales
    Honda Insight 1,722; 3,276
    Ford Fusion hybrid 1,379; 2,348

    In previous year, sales of Ford Fusion hybrid included a sizable number of purchases from fleet customers, including the Fed. gov’t.

    Yeah, more retail buyers bought Honda Insight than Ford Fusion hybrid because it meets their needs, leaving Ford Fusion hybrid to be fleet customers’ choice.

  • rom

    Thanks for pointing it out. I didn’t know about that model. Depending on price I will consider it. I would like to buy American this time around but the prices have been way too high. (focus being 50% more than a prius) I don’t need or want the larger car. Thanks again.

  • Anonymous

    learn how to spell FOOL!

  • JUJUBE

    LEARN ENGLISH DUMMY.

  • JUJUBE

    POOR ENGLISH…FOOL.

  • JUJUBE

    Check your English!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • omn1potent

    Please release the Yaris Hybrid in Australia ASAP. PlugIn Hybrid LPi models would be most welcomed.