Update: Toyota Introduces the Yaris HSD Hybrid Concept
Should have Better MPG Than Prius
There's a new kind of arms race on the road, except that this one doesn't involve bigger vehicles and more horsepower. Instead, the goal is to make hybrids with higher MPG and/or lower prices. The cheaper-than-the-Prius Honda Insight was the first salvo, even outselling the Prius in Japan in February, and coming down the pipeline is the even cheaper Honda Fit hybrid. Preliminary reports tell us that Toyota's counter-attack will take the form of a next-generation Yaris-based hybrid. Read on for more details.
Same Hybrid Drivetrain Technology as the Toyota Prius
The Japanese Asahi newspaper reports (via Reuters) that "Toyota Motor Corp plans to launch a hybrid compact for around 1.5 million yen ($15,760) in Japan in late 2011".
The new compact hybrid will be based on the next-generation Yaris/Vitz platform (not the one pictured here), and will use Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) hybrid drivetrain, which was updated for the 2010 Prius hybrid, though probably with a smaller battery pack to keep weight and price down. It will "feature a more cost competitive and fuel-efficient hybrid system than that of the Prius," the Asahi newspaper said.
What Will the MPG be Like?
This is purely speculation, but I think that if Toyota can keep the weight of its Yaris-based compact hybrid down, make it a bit more aerodynamic than the current Yaris (for improved highway MPG, mostly), and use a gas engine with a displacement of around 1-liter (the torque from the electric motor will make up for the small size), this hybrid could probably get a EPA rating of more than 65 MPG US, and hypermilers could get quite impressive numbers in real-world driving.