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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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Another tiny hybrid.
By TennesseeTony on 3/30/2009 9:29:22 PM , Rating: 2
It is truly sad 1.) that Americans (often) want the biggest car/truck available, not need, but want; 2.) that the automakers continue to NOT pursue hybrid large vehicles. Yeah, sure, we've got a semi-hybrid GMC truck, and Caddy SUV. Small cars already have decent fuel consumption rates. These larger vehicles are the ones that need to be addressed, as they are by far the ones that will see the most improvement.

Don't flame me yet, I need to find a gene bank and swap to my fire retardant Plasmids. Okay, I'm ready.

RE: Another tiny hybrid.
By FITCamaro on 3/31/2009 7:44:09 AM , Rating: 2
Damn people for buying what they want with their money. Evil bastards!

RE: Another tiny hybrid.
By Spuke on 3/31/2009 3:41:10 PM , Rating: 2
You only buy small cars and that's cool. But can we stop with the "you are evil if you're not doing what I do" stuff? It's REALLY getting old and, quite frankly, people do what they want regardless.

RE: Another tiny hybrid.
By FITCamaro on 3/31/2009 4:13:52 PM , Rating: 2
Think you meant to respond to him....

RE: Another tiny hybrid.
By Spuke on 3/31/2009 5:23:59 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah I did. Sorry about that.

RE: Another tiny hybrid.
By Trippytiger on 3/31/2009 10:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
A great deal of hybrid vehicle technology has been put in place in larger vehicles, though. Prius, Camry, Accord, Escape, all of the Lexus hybrids - they are not small vehicles! And they're the type of vehicle that hybrid technology almost makes sense in, because they suit the needs of people who want reasonably large cars while delivering better fuel economy than other similarly sized vehicles.

I do agree that it would be good to see more hybrid tech in trucks and SUVs where the benefits should be even greater, but it's certainly not accurate to say that only small cars get the hybrid treatment.

RE: Another tiny hybrid.
By matt0401 on 4/8/2009 11:15:10 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I tend to prefer the foreign auto makers (I think their styling is MUCH better) I don't think people give companies like GM and Ford enough credit when it comes to green tech.

Toyota's flagship hybrid product is a mid-size car. Let's assuming their hybrid tech reduces fuel consumption by 50%. GM and Ford decided to implement their hybrid tech mainly in larger vehicles. Ford went with the SUV (Escape) and GM mainly does fleets of hybrid buses. Even if we assume that they're behind on hybrid tech, assuming maybe only 25% fuel savings, this still results in more fuel being saved due to the vehicles having initially higher fuel consumptions. Compact cars are already fuel efficient, we need to get the rest on par. A bus saving 25% of it's fuel beats a mid-size car saving 50% of its fuel by far . In this way, GM especially has done way more for green tech application than Toyota, Honda, etc.

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