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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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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.

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