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Toyota Yaris  (Source:

Will also fight Honda Fit hybrid when available in 2011

Chief Engineer Akihito Otsuka of Toyota confirmed to the Japanese Nikkei newspaper that the company is developing a new, lower-cost hybrid-electric version of the Yaris. It will compete against Honda's Insight hybrid which has just gone on sale, as well as the Honda Fit hybrid which is due in 2012.

The Toyota Yaris currently achieves 29 MPG in the city and 35 MPG highway, according to the revised EPA estimates.  It became a hit at first due to high gas prices, but now enjoys strong sales mostly due to its value and affordability.

The current generation Toyota Yaris is due for a redesign in 2011, and the hybrid is expected to launch in that timeframe. In Japan, the Yaris hatchback is known as the Vitz, while the sedan is known as the Belta. The Yaris hybrid will most likely be based on the Belta sedan, due to space constraints.

It will utilize a smaller version of the third generation Hybrid Synergy Drive derived from the new third generation Prius. It will also use lithium-ion batteries in order to conserve weight and size.

Toyota owns sixty percent of Panasonic EV Energy, in a joint venture with the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company. It is building two new factories in order to bring annual output capacity to one million batteries. Although currently producing nickel-metal hydride batteries, it will start lithium-ion battery production this year. Toyota's former President Katsuaki Watanabe stated last year that mass production of lithium-ion batteries would start in 2010.

Toyota will continue to sell the six-year-old, second generation version of the Prius in Japan. Although released in 2004, it will serve as a lower cost hybrid option from Toyota to temporarily fight the Honda Insight until the Yaris hybrid is available.

The Yaris hybrid could be produced at Toyota's new Prius factory in Blue Springs, Mississippi.

Despite the low cost of the Insight, the Prius remains popular as it is still the most fuel-efficient car in mass production for the U.S. market.

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By preslove on 3/30/2009 10:22:49 AM , Rating: 2
I'm glad to see the hybrid market expanding. This might be the hybrid I end up buying, depending on the price. The Insight is a little too expensive, considering its minimal improvements in fuel efficiency. I'm sure the Yaris will have much, much better fuel economy, since it already is so good.

RE: Competition=good
By lagomorpha on 3/30/2009 3:11:16 PM , Rating: 2
What's wrong with the current non-hybrid Yaris? At 32mpg even if the hybrid got infinite miles to the gallon you'd likely never make back the extra cost and extra maintenance expense.

RE: Competition=good
By kilkennycat on 3/30/2009 11:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
That's odd. My 2007 standard 5-speed manual-transmission Yaris sedan gets a (measured) 31-32mpg (US) tooling around city shopping, traffic lights etc, etc. and (measured) 41-42mpg (US) driving I-5 up and down the West Coast US at the posted speed limits (55 - 70mph) without any economy "tricks" whatsover and with a/c or heater on, as appropriate. The EPA guys must have transferred their leaden feet from SUVs when they came up with the latest MPG figures for the Yaris. Or maybe they have no idea how to effectively use a manual gearbox with a small-capacity, narrow torque-range engine. Automatic is not recommended for this type of vehicle if you want to get good mileage - you need to anticipate gear-changes much sooner than any current automatic technology can provide. Regardless of any such finesse, and aware that the EPA standards were tightened for 2008 onwards, I still cannot understand how they came up with those ridiculous new figures for the Yaris....

RE: Competition=good
By lagomorpha on 3/31/2009 8:58:18 AM , Rating: 2
Yes the new EPA estimates are very pessimistic especially for smaller vehicles, but so long as they are in theory the same across all vehicles at least we have some system with which to compare same to same.

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