Monday, May 23, 2011

Toyota Mulling a Larger Hybrid Minivan than the Prius V with Seating for Seven

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The all-new Prius V five-seater minivan isn’t due to arrive in U.S. showrooms until this fall, yet Toyota is already looking into the development of a larger model capable of seating seven passengers as well as carrying their luggage, according to Bob Carter, Toyota Division general manager. The larger Prius won’t be based on the Japanese market Prius Alpha nor the European specification Prius+, both of which pack a retractable third row of seats into the Prius V’s cargo area.

Carter told Autoweek that while the company has not made a final decision yet, the concept of a true 7-seater Prius minivan for the North American market is “being seriously studied”. He added that the three-row Prius would have to be based on a dedicated platform and meet certain criteria such as feature an aerodynamic shape, be able to return at least 40mpg and have a strong value-price equation.

Another Toyota executive, corporate manager of product planning Ben Mitchell, confirmed that his team has put several proposals for new hybrid vehicles in different segments on the table, including that of a larger 7-seater Prius as well as hybrid versions of the Sienna minivan and Venza crossover.


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