Toyota has high hopes for the Prius V, the second model in an expanded Prius line of hybrids. The company expect that the additional passenger and cargo space on the V will help push Prius into the mainstream market, and even one day make the quintessential gas-electric car Toyota’s top selling vehicle.
The model—sold as the Alpha in Asia—went on sale on May 13. Based on higher than expected orders, Toyota plans to increase monthly production to 70 percent above initial targets by this fall, according to Reuters and Nikkei business daily . In Japan, customers have to join waiting lists to purchase the Prius V.
Toyota plans to boost production to 5,000 vehicles per month from 3,000. In Japan, The Prius V wagon comes in a two-row, five-seat version and a three-row, seven-seat version. In America, it’s only available as the five-seater.
The V goes on sale in the United States this fall. The exact date and pricing have not yet been announced.
Bob Carter, Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager, told HybridCars.com that he expects the V to bring in 15 to 20 percent more Prius buyers—almost a completely different group of new folks who historically reject the Prius liftback “just because of size and capacity.”
Toyota has hinted that it expects Prius to outsell its long-time mainstream mass-sellers, the Camry and Corolla, in a matter of years.
“The Prius V looks a lot like a Prius, but it has an extended roofline, giving it nearly 60 percent more cargo room than the existing Prius,” said Doug Coleman, Toyota’s Prius product manager, in an interview with HybridCars.com. “That’s more than many small SUVs.” Coleman said that Toyota has been studying the idea of a larger Prius for a number of years, and decided that it was the right time to introduce the model.
The Prius V earns its additional room at the expense of 8 mpg. The V is bigger, wider and taller—but delivers an EPA average of 44 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway—instead of the 51/48 of the existing liftback version. We recently gave the vehicle a hard drive around the hills and coastal roads of Half Moon Bay, Calif., mostly using standard mode—rather than Power, Eco or EV—and found it almost impossible to bring the average mileage below 40 mpg.