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NAIAS 2011: Toyota Prius Goes Plural

      With sales of almost one million units since its debut in 2000, the Toyota Prius is an unqualified success and Toyota can hardly be blamed for looking at ways to expand the Prius’ appeal to new customers. Which is exactly what we saw Toyota do at this year’s Detroit Auto Show.
     The standard Prius will grow a charging port in the first half of 2012 and become the Prius Plug-In. The capability to charge the new Lithium-ion battery before using the vehicle will result in an electric range of up to 13 miles as long as speeds don’t crest 60 mph. The battery can be charged in three hours from a standard 110-volt outlet.
     But the bigger news in the expansion of the lineup is the brand new offerings. The first addition debuted in production trim as the Prius v, a larger model that offers a lot of, you guessed it, Versatility. Most of that comes in the form of sheer size with more than 50% greater interior volume than today’s standard Prius. Other family friendly features include a resin Panoramic Roof that is lighter than traditional glass roofs and Toyota’s recently introduced Entune technology that integrates your smart phone into the vehicle’s central infotainment system. The Prius v is rated for 40 mpg combined and will go on sale late this summer.
     A fourth Prius derivative will go on sale by the middle of 2012 and look similar to the city-car-inspired Prius c Concept. Toyota isn’t saying a lot about it just yet, except to promise that it will be fun to drive and achieve the best fuel economy of any “cordless” hybrid on the market.
     Jumping from one Prius model to four in the next 18 months is an ambitious expansion plan, but if we know Toyota, there will be even more Prius derivatives to come.

Photos by Jason Muxlow

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