Toyota Prius Compact Minivan Named 'Alpha', to Debut in March 2011
Toyota is charging ahead with its plans to expand the Prius range, with a compact people-mover as one of its top priorities. Now in its final stages of development, the Prius mini-minivan, dubbed Alpha, will be the first vehicle in the Prius line to use lithium-ion batteries when it debuts in March 2011. Just one-third the weight of the nickel-metal hydride battery pack used in the current production Prius sedan, the new lithium-ion batteries generate greater power and are already in use in the prototype Prius plug-in hybrid.
The Toyota Prius Alpha sits on the current Prius sedan platform but gets an extra row of seats in the back, turning it into a mini people-mover. Toyota settled on the Alpha name because the new addition simply adds 'alpha' to the Prius equation. The new Alpha's overall length will be stretched by about 300 mm (one foot) in contrast to the Prius, while its wheelbase will be extended 20 mm (just under an inch).
A five-seater version is also planned, but this variant will incorporate nickel-hydride batteries to save cost, according to one insider. That same source also tells us that Toyota are bullish about pricing and will offer the Alpha seven-seater from 2.5 million yen, undercutting many of the current seven-seater minivans on the market now.