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Frankfurt show: Toyota prefers Prius+ for Oz

Eco-wagon: Although not yet confirmed for Australia, Toyota’s seven-seat Prius+ wagon is its preferred choice for local delivery.

New-look Prius, HiLux, Avensis for Frankfurt alongside new 3-dr Yaris and Prius+

9 Sep 2011

TOYOTA’S stand at next week’s Frankfurt motor show will have a distinctively hybrid flavour, with the facelifted Prius hatch due Down Under early next year joined by joined by plug-in hatch and seven-seat ‘Prius+’ wagon variants that are both under consideration for Australia.

Representing pure internal combustion will be a facelifted Avensis sedan – not to be confused with the Avensis people mover that stopped selling in Australia last year – as well as a three-door version of the new Yaris light car and the facelifted HiLux one-tonne ute just launched in Australia.

The facelifted Prius is due to reach Australia in the first quarter of next year, along with the city-sized Prius C hatch. Toyota says the introduction of new Prius variants makes it “the first full hybrid to be offered as a complete, stand-alone model range”.

With regards to the plug-in Prius – which is claimed to achieve fuel economy of 2.2 litres per 100km and CO2 emissions of 49g per kilometre – Toyota Australia public relations manager Mike Breen told GoAuto the company is still in the evaluation phase and that “there is s no determination yet on if or when the vehicle will be introduced here”.

Asked about the Prius+ and its five-seat Prius V counterpart, Mr Breen said they were still being “looked at,” but that Toyota is hopeful of bringing one of them to Australia next year.

8 center imageFrom top: Toyota Avensis teaser, Prius plug-in, Yaris 3-dr, Prius C.

“It’s yet to be determined which one we will ultimately have, if either,” he said, but revealed the company’s preference towards the seven-seat Prius+ – despite the five-seat V being shown at the Melbourne show in July – which he agreed could be viewed as a replacement for the Avensis in Toyota’s Australian line-up.

Compared with the Prius V, which like the standard Prius uses nickel-metal hydride batteries, the Prius+ employs more compact but more expensive lithium-ion batteries to liberate the extra space required for the third row of seats, making it the first mass-produced Toyota to use the technology – which will also be used in the plug-in Prius.

At 4615mm in length, the Prius wagons are 155mm longer than the hatch, and wider by 30 (1775mm).

Mr Breen ruled out importation of the British-built Avensis sedan, which is smaller but more upmarket than the Australian-built Camry.

The Avensis sedan will debut new exterior styling at Frankfurt with improvements to “the quality look and feel of the interior,” along with powertrain and dynamic enhancements in what Toyota says is the “largest mid-life investment Toyota has made for any model”.

As GoAuto has reported, when the facelifted Prius and smaller Prius C reach Australia next year Toyota will alter its marketing strategy away from explaining the technology to expounding its benefits due to its hybrid products – including the locally-built petrol-electric Camry – failing to meet publicly-stated sales targets.

Toyota has also teamed up with rival Ford to co-develop a rear-wheel drive hybrid drivetrain for SUVs and light trucks, enabling both brands to expand their fuel-saving petrol-electric offerings across a broader model range.

In Australia Toyota aims to restore its domination of the market with a target of achieving a 23 per cent monthly market share by the end of this year as if recovers from the after-effects of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.

Sales for the Japanese giant in Australia have plunged 19.4 per cent so far this year to 113,993 units, with the Prius accounting for just 452, a decline of 64.6 per cent.

In 2009, Toyota predicted 4500 Prius sales for 2010, but shifted just 1611 – down 47 per cent on 2009’s 3040 units.

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