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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 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...

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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