2009 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo
Barely missing a beat in the gas/electric hybrid sales wars, Toyota is planning a new low-priced hybrid that should come in under the $2 million yen mark in Japan according to the Nikkei business newspaper today. $2 million yen ($20,510) is a significant psychological barrier for Japanese consumers according to many in that country.
With Honda's new 2010 Insight more than tripling its expected sales in Japan last month, its first month on sale, Toyota had to respond. Toyota say their new hybrid will sell for some 20 to 30 percent less than the current Prius (2.33 million yen), and will be constructed of altered Prius parts. The vehicle's engine will be smaller than the current hybrid's 1.5-liter four-cylinder.
Honda's been the company stealing the hybrid limelight lately, with its 2010 Insight impressing reviewers with its spry, sporty personality and cheaper MSRP than the Toyota Prius. We've driven the 2010 Insight, and despite its comparatively diminutive (1.3-liter) gasoline four and seemingly underpowered electric motor (13 hp), found that it definitely provides a more enjoyable, involving experience than the 2009 Toyota Prius.
Will the new Prius Lite pose a significant challenge to the 2010 Insight, or will it merely be a cardboard-thin attempt to win the hybrid price wars? No word on whether Toyota plans to sell this new model outside of Japan.
[source: Automotive News]