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Geneva show: Toyota Yaris goes hybrid

The nose knows: Toyota has released this taste of the Yaris Hybrid concept, which is clearly more than a driveline transplant.

Baby Toyota to get the Prius treatment as hybrid technology extends across the range

8 Feb 2011

A HYBRID version of Toyota’s popular light car, the Yaris, will be revealed at the Geneva motor show in concept form alongside the company’s first seven-seat Prius hybrid, to be called the Prius+.

A teaser image of the Yaris HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive) indicates a major reworking of the nose of the third-generation Yaris – known in Japan as the Vitz – that is set to be launched in Australia in conventional four-cylinder petrol form about September.

Compared with the standard, angular production Vitz that was launched in Japan just before Christmas, the new concept appears to have a new, smoother front fascia with a bigger air opening, a reshaped bonnet with a more pronounced bulge, and blue-tinged headlights with a line of blue LED running lights embedded within them.

While Toyota Australia has confirmed the local launch of the MkIII Yaris for the third quarter of this year, it it has indicated the hybrid version is still under consideration.

But first, another unnamed Toyota hybrid is on the Australian launch pad for 2012 as part of a hybrid blitz that ultimately is set to expand the Toyota hybrid range to eight models.

8 center imageFrom top: Prius Plus teaser photo, Prius V concept from Detroit, Prius C concept and Toyota Vitz.

Toyota is keeping its powder dry on details of the Yaris Hybrid’s driveline and other mechanical elements, although the HSD tag indicates it will get a variation of the Prius petrol-electric driveline, presumably scaled down to suit the smaller car.

“The Yaris HSD concept incorporates hybrid-specific styling cues and new, forward-looking design elements,” Toyota said in its press release accompanying the image.

European reports say the hybrid Yaris will go into production for Europe alongside the standard variant at the company’s Valenciennes plant in northern France, near the border with Belgium.

Australia’s new-generation Yaris will come from Japan, although in the longer term production might be shifted to a cheaper manufacturing source such as Thailand.

The Prius+ that Toyota will also show at Geneva is believed to be a seven-seat version of the Prius V – a stretched version of the standard Prius hatchback – that was shown in five-seat form at January’s Detroit motor show.

On the Detroit concept, the 50 per cent more interior space was offered as extra luggage room, but on the European Prius+ version a third row of seats appears to have been added.

Toyota said the Prius+ will be the first car to offer European customers the versatility of seven seats with a full hybrid powertrain.

“As its name suggests, Prius+ – similar to the Prius V that was unveiled in North America last month – provides significantly more passenger accommodation and load space than its sister hatchback model, without sacrificing essential Prius attributes, such as class-leading fuel economy and ultra-low emissions,” Toyota said.

When the biggest Prius was revealed in Detroit in January, Toyota Australia spokesman Mike Breen told GoAuto: “The V is under consideration, (but) we are yet to decide if or when it would come here.” The Prius+/Prius V is one of four Prius models in the extended Toyota hybrid family that also includes the more compact Prius C – destined to take on the Honda CR-X hybrid – and plug-in Prius PHEV.

Toyota indicated it would also have a broader future technology story to tell at Geneva, with demonstrations of “the versatility of hybrid power technologies to achieve high efficiency and low or zero emissions in a wide range of vehicle types, including plug-in hybrids (PHV), electric vehicles (EV) and fuel cell hybrid Vehicles (FCHV) – all of which feature in its product strategy for the present decade”.

And, while Toyota says its Geneva focus will be on environmentally friendly vehicles and technologies, it will be having a bet each way by also displaying a second-generation concept of its FT-86 sports coupe that it is developing jointly with Subaru.

The 2+2 ‘Toyobaru’ will be powered by Subaru’s new boxer engine with direct-injection technology supplied by Toyota.

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