Teaser image of the baby Prius concept Toyota plans to introduce in Detroit next week.


At next weeks Detroit show Toyota will reportedly debut a baby Prius, a subcompact version of the Prius hybrid that comprises 75% of Toyota’s hybrid sales.

Up till now, Toyota’s additional hybrid sales have been split between an assortment of bigger and frumpier hybrids like the Highlander, or the luxury hybrids in the Lexus line. But all seven of those models together only account for the remaining 25% of sales.

So, perhaps wisely, the company is changing direction.

Unlike the other non-Prius gas-hybrids in the Toyota lineup, the baby Prius would be smaller and about $3,000 cheaper and will likely surpass the outstanding mileage of the 50 MPG Prius.

In traditional Toyota style, the company is playing it close to the vest. Announcements from them tend to come guarded, such as with introduction of the plug-in Prius—long after enthusiasts had been demanding one; with only 150 slated for fleets in the United States early next year. Then it rolled out a solar electric charging station pilot, which, if it went into wider production, would represent the first example of vertical integration in the electric vehicle market. A bold move move.

The baby Prius we should see at Detroit next week could be in US showrooms in early 2012, and some estimates of annual production peg it at a possible 150,000 a year – or more than all the non-Prius hybrids in Toyota’s lineup. And the marketing to a younger, more frugal and a more eco-aware segment of car buyers seems just right. There’s just too much competition in the fuel-inefficient market segment.

Source: Triple Pundit