It’s called the Aqua in Japan, but in Canada it will be called the “Prius c,” a low-$20,000s gasoline-electric hybrid aimed at younger, less affluent buyers who care about fuel economy and the environment.
Toyota has high hopes for this addition to the Prius sub-brand. At December’s Tokyo Motor Show, company officials said the plan is to sell the Prius c in 50 countries, including Canada and the United States, following its Japan rollout.
In Japan, Toyota officials said the Prius c or Aqua boasts fuel economy of 2.8 litres/100 km, which bests the regular Prius hatch, which is rated at 3.1 litres/100 km.
Globally, Toyota plans to roll out 11 hybrid models in the two years through the end of 2012. This raises an obvious question: How big can the Prius brand be?
In addition to the Prius c, Toyota Canada plans to introduce a plug-in version of the Prius with a battery-only range of about 20 km. The will join the regular Prius and the Prius v wagon already in the lineup.
Company officials have told trade journal Automotive News that the Prius family should account for half of Toyota’s hybrid sales globally, down from about 70 per cent today. At the same time, Toyota expects the overall hybrid market to grow as auto makers scramble to meet increasingly demanding government fuel economy and emissions regulations.
Toyota, it seems quite clear, can be expected to add more Prius models over time while also pushing its hybrid technology into other models, from the Camry Hybrid to the upcoming Lexus GS 400h hybrid.