We have been obsessing in this blog for months now about the upcoming extended Prius family of hybrids — a family that will include a van-like, wagon-ish version of the Prius, dubbed the ‘v’; a Plug-in Prius and the somewhat sketchy Prius ‘c’. Up to now, details on the city version of the Prius known simply as the ‘c’ have been scarce. What we know is that it will be a smaller, more compact version of the iconic Prius, probably with the same power-train, but with noticeably better gas mileage and at a significantly lower selling price. A stylish concept study of the Prius c made the rounds on the auto show circuit last year, but that was all that was revealed about the future Prius sibling.
That is, until now. According to Reuters News Service, the Nikkei, a leading financial newspaper in Japan, is reporting that Toyota will launch a new compact hybrid car for the Japanese market this January known as the 2012 Toyota Aqua. The Aqua is quite possibly the Japanese market model of the Prius c, a lighter, less expensive, more efficient version of the hatchback Prius that is slated for North American delivery early next year.
The new vehicle will use the same power-train as the Prius and the newspaper listed the mileage at just under 40 km/litre (without saying where it got the information). The standard Prius gets 32 km/litre in Japan. The daily added that the Aqua is likely to sell for “around 1.7 million yen” which equates to $22,000 U.S. ($1 = 76.655 Japanese Yen) and that translates to about 300,000 yen less than the cost of a standard Prius in Japan (about $4,000).
The fuel economy figures for the Aqua as quoted by the Nikkei represent gas mileage of 94 mpg on the Japanese test cycle which is not as strenuous as test cycles used by the EPA in the U.S. The current Prius returns 75 mpg in the Japanese test cycle. By those numbers the Aqua would be around 25% more efficient than the Prius. As an educated guess, it is safe to speculate that real-world combined gas mileage according to EPA test cycles will be closer to 60 mpg when the Prius c arrives at Toyota dealers here.
The Aqua, like the Prius c, will be aimed at younger, urban buyers and could be the most significant gas-electric hybrid of the new Prius family of hybrids coming from Toyota. When it arrives in the U.S. next spring, it will occupy a price-point noticeably below the current mid-size Prius hatchback.
Comment: The Prius c made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 2012, check out the teaser video below for an early peek at the 2012 Prius c:
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