Print 47 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Oct 16 at 2:13 AM

Prius MPV teaser  (Source: Toyota)

Prius MPV under heavy camouflage  (Source: Auto Spies)
Toyota is looking to expand its Prius lineup

Rumors of an MPV or minivan based on Toyota's popular Prius have been swirling around for quite some time. Given that current 5-seat Prius is capable of 50 mpg, it's seems reasonable to think that a slightly larger vehicle with additional seating/cargo capacity would be welcome in the marketplace (with a slight hit to overall fuel economy).

Today, Edmunds Inside Line has some of the first spy photos of the MPV counterpart to the Prius hatchback. According to the publication, the vehicle will seat seven passengers and will be similar in size to such vehicles as the Mazda 5 and the Kia Rondo. The Mazda 5 in particular is quite popular with small families as it is closer in size to the original Chrysler minivans that debuted in the mid-80s instead of the gargantuan Siennas, Odysseys, and Caravans prowling the streets today.

Given that the MPV will share much in common with the standard Prius, we expect to see the same 1.8-liter gasoline engine used and a new lithium-ion battery pack for added power and range (while at the same time saving weight). It shouldn't be too difficult for the MPV to achieve greater than 40 mpg combined (city/highway), but we'll just have to wait for the final EPA numbers to come in when the vehicle is released next year.

When the Prius MPV does hit U.S. streets, it will likely be joined by a similar offering from General Motors: the Chevrolet Volt MPV5. The "crossover" variant of the standard Volt sedan seats five people and can travel up to 35 miles on battery power alone.

Updated 10/11/2010

Toyota has just posted a teaser shot of it upcoming Prius MPV on its Facebook page.


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one thing...
By Gul Westfale on 10/4/2010 3:49:41 PM , Rating: 2
i've always wondered about this:

eco-freaks are against nuclear power. it is clean now, but creates nuclear waste in the future.
yet, these same people LOVE hybrid and electric cars... even though they are the exact same thing: they are clean now, but the batteries become toxic, non-recyclable waste in a few years.

would it not be much less wasteful and kinder to the environment to optimize current technologies and then work more towards hydrogen cars than to spend untold amounts of money and resources on something that doesn't solve the problem of pollution?

RE: one thing...
By gamerk2 on 10/4/10, Rating: 0
RE: one thing...
By jonup on 10/4/2010 5:05:26 PM , Rating: 4
The problem with Solar is that the panels are not cost efficient. I personally do not like the government to tell me what to do and it should be up to the market to lead to business decisions. Also you need to keep the panels clean, which would add to the cost of owner ship. I was gonna fund a solar powerplant in Eastern Europe so I am aware of some of the pros and cons of solar. Also panels have relatively short live ~20 years. Solar power only makes economic sense in very limited surcamstances and they usually involve government subsidy.
Hydrogen cells make more sense but do not forget that it require a lot of energy to create them. As long as they use clean and efficient energy source they could be good alternative. Maybe solar powerplants?!

RE: one thing...
By Fraggeren on 10/4/2010 7:16:55 PM , Rating: 1
Most quality solar panels has a 25 years warranty, and they could last a lot longer.

"very limited surcamstances", please enlighten us, I'm pretty sure you have no idea.

And a great thing about solar panels, they are becoming cheaper and cheaper every year.

RE: one thing...
By Ytsejamer1 on 10/4/2010 7:44:50 PM , Rating: 3
I'm actually replying to the top... wouldn't it make sense to optimize ICE, etc, etc.

We should optimize...but at the same time think about this...what other infrastructure do we have in place even more convenient that gas stations? That's right...electrical outlets. Can our backend infrastructure handle it? That's a tough one...not at this stage of the game. Hydrogen...yeah right. I think we'd have an easier time upgrading our grid rather than trying to totally reinvent the wheel with hydrogen station infrastructure.

RE: one thing...
By vol7ron on 10/12/2010 12:41:32 AM , Rating: 2

...I'm thinking the prius minivan will get like 30MPG. I think 45 is kind of a high estimate.

RE: one thing...
By goku on 10/11/2010 4:33:26 PM , Rating: 1
Solar Panels are generally WARRANTED for 20 years with 80 percent of capacity.. There is a big difference between what the warranty period of something is and how long it will actually last. There are solar panels that are 30 years old that are still being used today, so to say they last only 20 years would be misleading. It's pretty much equivalent to saying Toyotas only last 3-5 years while GM vehicles last 10 years since that's pretty much the length of their warranties.

RE: one thing...
By Keeir on 10/4/2010 6:47:12 PM , Rating: 2
.... ummm are you aware of numbers

I think at a minimum an office building is going to need .25 kW per person during operation... So I am thinking a building is going to need ~ 2.5 kWh per person per day. In most of the US, average yearly Sun energy falling on a plate is around ~ 5.5 kWh/m^2/day. So... using 25% efficieny, its going to take around 2 m^2 of solar power per occupant of the building... this typically far exceeds the south facing ideal locations on all but very specific buildings built under very special circumstances.

Around my area, I know an office building which houses a relatively modest 750-1,000 workers. On a Sunny Day it is generating a net from the Solar panels of ~1.5kW... I have difficulty imaging that the office workers typically use only ~2-3W each!

RE: one thing...
By Samus on 10/4/10, Rating: 0
RE: one thing...
By Solandri on 10/4/2010 7:34:29 PM , Rating: 5
Every single person I talked too, even those who had them installed 20-30 years ago, said it was worth it, even back when panel efficiency was 10%. Now its close to 50%!

It's nowhere near 50%. The best research PV I've heard of is about 40% efficient. Most of the mass-produced panels (i.e. most cost-effective) are around 15%-20%. Go to any website that sells commercial panels and you'll probably see them talk about ~120 Watts/m^2. Sunlight at noon at a sunny locale hits the earth at around 800 Watts/m^2, so this is 15% efficiency. The efficiency declines over the years, with the expected useful lifetime of the panels being about 30 years. You could probably stretch that to 50 years with some TLC but there's nothing you can do about the efficiency decline.

Payback time is generally 10-20 years, so if you can afford the up-front costs and plan to stick around for 30+ years, they are generally worth it. However, at the end of their useful lifetime, you're left with several hundred kg of semi-toxic waste destined for the landfill; about 30-40 m^2 worth if you want them to provide most of the power for a typical home during those 30 years.

In contrast, the amount of uranium fuel needed to provide nuclear powered electricity for a typical home for 30 years is about half a liter - about the size of a small water bottle. And that's without considering reprocessing, which could reduce the amount of spent fuel to 1/10th that. People usually talk about the bogeyman of nuclear waste without realizing just how little of it is created per GWh of electricity generated. By volume of waste per unit of energy generated, it's by far the cleanest technology we have.

I know there are alternatives, but it isn't like people are going to install windmills and geothermal plants in their backyards anytime soon. The current incentives and benifits for solar power are pretty good, especially if you live in the Southern states.

Geothermal plants are only feasible in certain areas. But geothermal heat pumps are viable just about everywhere, and can reduce heating and air conditioning costs considerably. By using the ground (stays around 55 F year-round) as a heat sink instead of the air (drops to freezing in winter when you want things warm, rises to 90 F in summer when you want things cool), you can increase the efficiency of heat pumps considerably. They typically pay for themselves in 3-5 years, and all that's needed is to bury a bunch of water-filled tubes under your lawn. No high tech research or exotic materials.

Solar is actually the most expensive electricity source. At current wholesale rates, coal is about 3-4 cents/kWh. Nuclear about 4-6 cents/kWh. Wind has been steadily dropping and is at about 7-15 cents/kWh. Solar is still in the 20-35 cents/kWh range. Solar is made semi-viable (i.e. the 10-20 year payback) by taking advantage of the higher cost of electricity during the day when demand is highest. If electric cars become widespread and electricity consumption evens out over the entire 24 hours of a day, solar will lose that advantage and you could actually see the payback time go up instead of down.

RE: one thing...
By retepallen on 10/5/2010 2:56:31 AM , Rating: 2
For information, The 800w sunlight hits the earth does change with latitude. In Spain for example, this is just over a kW.

RE: one thing...
By goku on 10/4/2010 11:20:01 PM , Rating: 2
why 250w? Lighting is hopefully shared, in fact they could even use daylight, computer don't have to consume that much electricity especially if they're only doing data input and there isn't really much else needed assuming the building is made to be "passive"..

RE: one thing...
By Schrag4 on 10/5/2010 11:59:35 AM , Rating: 2
There are many other things in a typical multi-level office building that consume power besides lighting and PCs. Without putting much of any though into it, I can come up with heating/cooling (probably the biggest), elevators, vending machines/refrigerators, many have a cafeteria with electric stoves/ovens/etc. I bet with a little more thought you could come up with a few more big-hitters. I seriously doubt that if you GOT RID OF lighting and PCs ALTOGETHER that the building would use less than 2.25 KWH per daytime employee per day (your cited 250W * 9 hours).

Just a guess though...

RE: one thing...
By carniver on 10/4/2010 4:12:33 PM , Rating: 4
Misinformed hybrid criticism. The battery packs are *recyclable* (for free), but before going into that, they last *very long*. Typically the drivetrain is warranted for 5 years, whereas the battery is warranted for *10* years. That tells you which one of them the manufacturer is more confident about.

Hybrid cars puts the brakes at ease, a lot of them does not require new brake pads until 80,000km. The engine also lasts longer because during acceleration, when the load is highest on the engine, it's assisted with battery power.

RE: one thing...
By mindless1 on 10/7/10, Rating: -1
RE: one thing...
By Alexstarfire on 10/11/2010 2:47:02 PM , Rating: 2
I can't speak for other companies, but for Toyota you would actually get a brand new battery if yours went out under warranty. Though, I'm a bit confused by what you meant by "new" battery. Obviously if the battery needing to be replaced is no longer manufactured then you can't get a brand new replacement battery. Best you could get is a used/refurb/reconditioned battery. If by "new" battery you mean ones used in newer cars then it's obvious they wouldn't do that. It's usually not as simple as just putting in the new battery and that's that. They wouldn't pay for modifying the car to accept the new battery. Useless the battery they give you to replace the failed one will die in less than the remaining time of the original warranty then I don't see the issue. Granted, even in that situation you'd just get another battery for free. Much more of a pain than anything else.

Also, the answer isn't necessarily simple as driving less. Some jobs simply require a lot of travel. For most people I'd agree that you should simply drive less. A lot of information can be derived from cab drivers who have driven hybrids. Can't say much about longevity since even now it's only been about a decade since hybrids really debuted. I can say that they have all fared very well so far.

Given your definition of recycle there are very few things that would meet your qualifications. A hybrid may not be a long term solution, but we don't really have a true long term solution even on the drawing board. A hybrid to me seems to be a better solution than a regular car, but it's still a problem that needs to be solved.

If hybrids are truly still in their beta-testing phase then I'd say they are much better off than anyone realizes. I don't believe this to be the case considering the state of several hybrids.

RE: one thing...
By mindless1 on 10/16/2010 2:13:38 AM , Rating: 2
No, no jobs require driving more. You can't have it both ways, can't pretend you are green and still choosing a job where you have to drive a lot.

SO, you want an excuse to feel better about being irresponsible. SORRY but NO, we all have real choices to make and one is to not be so full of excuses as to drive long distances regularly.

THAT is where the difference is between people who ruin the planet and those who don't, that some make excuses claiming "I need to" and others just DON'T DO IT.

Read those last three words carefully because you just don't get it and it is offensive to pretend you have an argument until you start to follow a truly conservative lifestyle - if you claim such things are needed via choosing automobiles, etc.

If you have to travel more than 20 miles a day, you are an idiot. Yes, I mean idiot no matter what excuse. We all choose where to live, what job to have, how to budget travel to stores, etc. Only an idiot needs to waste resources to do what everyone else DOES NOT NEED TO.

HINT: If you can't do it, you are dumber, not smarter with some excuse. I should mention this is not directed at the poster I replied to but rather anyone dumb enough to think they can argue that they "Need" to travel long distances. Only an idiot can't meet all their life needs without excessive travel in any first world country.

In fact, an intelligent person who isn't sick can almost ( slightly below average) live entirely without a care because they have the common sense to locate themselves close enough to a metropolitan area that "most" things they need are only a few blocks away.

BUT, that would require thinking instead of excuses.

RE: one thing...
By Pirks on 10/4/2010 4:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
the batteries become toxic, non-recyclable waste in a few years
Any prooflinks for your claim of batteries being non-recyclable?

RE: one thing...
By Gul Westfale on 10/4/10, Rating: -1
RE: one thing...
By Pirks on 10/4/2010 5:27:19 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously you did not understand the simple fact that lithium batteries are going to replace lead batteries in cars, which is a good thing since lead is so much more harmful for environment compared to lithium. I dunno how were you reading this - upside down or from right to left or what?? 'Cause I can't make the same insane conclusion like you do, that lithium batteries make situation worse. Your link clearly states that they make situation BETTER.

Any other prooflinks then?

RE: one thing...
By mcnabney on 10/5/2010 9:22:32 AM , Rating: 2
The poster that thought that old LiIon batteries would be discarded is clearly retarded. I am going to guess that when a car is old and broken down that the battery will still be worth quite a bit due to the chemicals in the battery. Every battery, like catalytic converters now, will be completely recycled because all of the chemicals in the battery have a relatively high resale value. See: Capitalism - it works biatches.

RE: one thing...
By Schrag4 on 10/5/2010 12:06:48 PM , Rating: 1
I'm no expert, but aren't the batteries in traditional ICE vehicles very tiny compared to the batteries in hybrids/EVs? I'm rather take a sip of toxic chemical A vs drinking a whole 20 oz bottle of similarly toxic chemical B. Just playing devil's advocate :-p

RE: one thing...
By Alexstarfire on 10/11/2010 2:57:50 PM , Rating: 2
It would seem to me that the battery wouldn't get bigger. In fact, it'd probably get smaller, or at least stay the same size, since the energy density in greater in LiIon batteries. It'd be more like a sip of toxic A or a few drops of toxin B.

That said, IDK why they'd replace traditional car batteries with LiIon ones since they'd likely be far less effective. NiMH batteries are currently probably the best for traditional batteries since they go through a lot of recharging and power drain. All the LiIon batteries used in hybrid vehicles are kept within a rather strict SoC, a select few percentages of the charge of the whole battery. All just to let the battery last longer. Don't know if that'll work very well for a traditional car battery since it's also designed to be used when the car is off. I'd imagine it wouldn't last as long as NiMH batteries. Just speculation though.

RE: one thing...
By carniver on 10/4/2010 5:30:31 PM , Rating: 2
Lead acid batteries are most toxic amongst all, yet it's used in ALL cars as starter batteries, whether hybrid or not. If you're so concerned about battery toxicity, DON'T DRIVE. Ride a bike or just walk.

The NiMH battery packs used by hybrids are made of nickel, which is recyclable and less toxic than lead. Hybrids may take more energy to produce, but it's a one time cost on the purchase price of the car, yet it'll give significant fuel savings over its lifetime and produces less pollutants and CO2 into the air. You never brought up the fact that hybrids have way better fuel milage? You may refuse to learn about its benefits, but at least if you plan on criticizing it do your research and see what the big picture is.

RE: one thing...
By Gul Westfale on 10/4/2010 5:41:28 PM , Rating: 2
the link states that new better will make it better, but they will not eliminate the problem. and starter batteries are tiny compared to the large battery packs you need for propulsion. and the precious metal in these batteries comes largely from communist china, so the argument that this is better than oil because it comes from a more politically-correct source is BS as well.

i'm not saying that the tech won't improve at some point, but what i am saying is: if we have alternatives (and we do, hydrogen), then why do we waste our time with this crap? and why do the media treat it as if it were a real solution to the problems of pollution (more electric cars ultimately also mean more coal/nuclear powerplants, no?) instead of being just the stopgap that it is?

RE: one thing...
By Pirks on 10/4/2010 6:02:22 PM , Rating: 3
and the precious metal in these batteries comes largely from communist china
Communism goes away sooner or later, this is not a problem. Besides, Chinese kind of communism is very effective economically, just look at their supedduper highspeed rail, this is impossible to build in any Western democracy due to land owner issues. Also, Augusto Pinochet killed a few commies here and there and suppressed democracy a little to get his economy back on track (while Russians haven't done similar Pinochet-style democracy suppression in 1917 and got destroyed/derailed forever because of that). So your "communist China" bullcrap is funny old view from some old Cold War era American or something. So outdated...
this is better than oil because it comes from a more politically-correct source
This argument is correct however it's worded not quite right. Proper way to say this is like that: oil is worse because it comes from the countries sponsoring Islam which turned out to be pretty evil enemy of the Western democracies, hence all the oil dependency must be severed ASAP in order to cut funding of Islam.
Nah, hydrogen is a waste of time and effort, noone is going to invest trillions of dollars into the expensive hydrogen infrastructure when one can just upgrade the existing electric power grid and build a few modern nuclear plants to get the same effect, besides batteries are way cheaper than fuel cells and are proven technology while fuel cells are some brain fart even today... who knows whether or not they will pan out well, or not... too many unknowns for their uberhigh price (cells themselves and infrastructure taken together)
more electric cars ultimately also mean more coal/nuclear powerplants, no?
No. Remove coal, and leave nuclear. Now you got the correct answer that is also absolutely clean eco-wise.

RE: one thing...
By Solandri on 10/4/2010 8:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
China is the source of most of the metals used in newer batteries because they're willing to rape their environment and pay their workers slave wages just to sell the stuff for cheaper than anyone else on the international market. It's not like oil where the bulk of the world's known deposits are only in certain locales. If China tried to raise the price of the metals, other deposits all around the world would suddenly become economically feasible to mine.

Hydrogen as an energy storage medium suffers from worse cycle efficiency than batteries. For batteries you're looking at maybe 3%-5% transmission losses from the power plant, ~70% charging efficiency, ~90% discharge effiiciency, and ~90% electric motor efficiency. Total is a bit over 50% of the power from the plant makes it to the wheels of your car.

Hydrogen production via electrolysis is currently about 50%-70% efficient (theoretical max is about 80%-94%). Combine that with 50%-70% efficiency of fuel cells (theoretical max is 83%) and ~90% electric motor efficiency, and only about 22%-44% of the energy from the power plant makes it to your wheels. And that's not even considering the difficulties or costs of transporting hydrogen as a fuel.

There's some work being done on cracking water into hydrogen via sunlight using catalysts, which if it pans out could make the generation of cracking stage effectively close to 100% efficient. And you can probably do something with the oxygen to make back some of your energy losses. But that's all highly theoretical right now. In practice, aside from geopolitical and environmental considerations, gasoline is a better fuel than hydrogen at the moment.

Hydrogen is used in space applications because it costs on the order of $200-$1000 to get one pound of material into low earth orbit. Hydrogen and oxygen are about the lightest fuels available, so it makes them obvious candidates for stuff you're putting into orbit. That's it. Remove the weight requirement and it's a pretty poor fuel. Even with the weight requirement, spacecraft frequently use hydrazine or aluminum+aluminum perchlorate (solid rocket fuel). Those are pretty nasty to work with and have nowhere near as much energy per unit weight as hydrogen. But they're much easier to store and handle than hydrogen + oxygen that they can be more cost-effective.

RE: one thing...
By mcnabney on 10/5/2010 9:28:35 AM , Rating: 2
Fuel cells have two additional benefits when used in space. Their waste product can be consumed by the astronauts. And there are no moving parts in the reaction itself. Now if you were paying attention to Apollo 11 you would remember that the fuel stirring device caused the failure. So there are still some risks to keeping fuels in space.

RE: one thing...
By JKflipflop98 on 10/4/2010 11:17:37 PM , Rating: 1
Because self-informed pseudo-intellectuals that somehow think they're saving the Earth by buying a $30K Prius don't want to hear that they've actually been conned Al Gore style. That would make them not fit the bill of what they think about themselves.

So instead of coming up with real solutions like nuclear power generation and hydrogen propulsion, we should all just buy a Toyota. Problem solved.

RE: one thing...
By carniver on 10/6/2010 7:26:13 PM , Rating: 3
- Al Gore didn't make the Prius
- Al Gore didn't make the EPA fuel milege numbers: up to 50mpg combined for hybrids, versus up to 35mpg for non-hybrids
- Al Gore didn't forge the federal/california emissions numbers: non-hybrids=T2B5, Hybrids=T2B3 or better
- Al Gore didn't drive a hybrid, he drives Hummers himself

You hybrid critics are just disconnected with reality, kept your heads stuck in the ground and continue to think you know better than everyone else.

RE: one thing...
By JKflipflop98 on 10/10/2010 4:07:29 PM , Rating: 2
your comprehension skills suck.

RE: one thing...
By Alexstarfire on 10/11/2010 3:12:32 PM , Rating: 2
So does your thinking ability. Most people do screw themselves on their purchases though.

RE: one thing...
By Nutzo on 10/4/2010 6:12:29 PM , Rating: 1
Actually a hybred makes sence for someone who drives 15-20K miles in-town or in stop&go rush hour traffic. The increased milage will easily pay for the additional cost.

However, for most people it's either a wash, or it wil cost them extra to drive a hybred.

For example, if you drive alot of open freeway, something like a civic or corolla would be cheaper do to thier high freeway milage. As for me, I only drive about 5K mile a year, the battery would be past the 10 year warranty before I'd break even.

RE: one thing...
By Iaiken on 10/4/2010 4:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
non-recyclable waste


Last time I checked, almost all major battery types (that are used in cars) can be recycled including: Lead Acid, Lithium Ion, Nickel Metal Hydride and Silver Oxide.

Also, in all of the above cases, it is financially worth while to do so, including the cost of safely disposing of hazardous by-products.

In fact, there are very few batteries that are both non-recyclable and toxic where consumers con't already pay for their disposal via deposit as part of the original battery purchase price.

RE: one thing...
By Shadowmaster625 on 10/5/2010 8:19:21 AM , Rating: 2
What gets me about these greenies who hate nuclear power is that they also seem to love depleted uranium.

RE: one thing...
By ImJustSaying on 10/5/2010 1:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure why you view hybrid/battery technology and the improvement of conventional internal combustion engines as being mutually exclusive technologies when it comes to R&D. It's apparent to me that gas mileage for conventional engines have improved greatly within just the last few years, on average. The automotive X-Prize was just won by a vehicle that has an internal combustion engine.

This, while battery technology has improved as well.

I agree with you regarding disposal of used batteries, however. That's going to be a huge problem. I know there are ways to recycle them, but I don't know how efficient and complete that process is.

There need to be parallel recycling processes that are developed alongside industrial processes that aim to provide an efficient way to reclaim much if not all of the material, by the time the end of life is reached for the first gen products.

RE: one thing...
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/12/2010 7:26:00 AM , Rating: 2
Toyota's NiMH batteries are fully recyclable. Which hybrid batteries are you talking about?

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