2012 Toyota Prius V Station Wagon/Minivan: Arrives This Fall

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2012 Toyota Prius V launch press conference, 2011 Detroit Auto Show

2012 Toyota Prius V launch press conference, 2011 Detroit Auto Show

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There's nothing like a story translated from overseas media, concerning a related but not-quite-the-same model of a new hybrid car, to get people all in an uproar.

So here's the real deal on the 2012 Toyota Prius V station wagon/minivan: It will still arrive in U.S. dealerships this fall.

That's the official word from Toyota Motor Sales, which issued the following statement late yesterday afternoon:

Following Toyota Motor Corporation’s (TMC) announcement in Japan today that delivery of the Prius alpha will be delayed, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) announced that the Prius v is still on track for delivery to U.S. customers this fall.

Delay of the Japan-market Prius alpha is due to the ongoing effects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Toyota's statement followed an Associated Press story datelined Tokyo that described delays in the related Prius Alpha model, which appears identical to the U.S.-market 2012 Prius V but has a third row seat and a different battery pack.

The delays are due to disruptions in Toyota's parts supplies, although the more advanced battery pack in the Prius Alpha was always going to be in short supply early in its production.

To help you sort out the variations of the Prius V, here's the full story.

To make matters more complicated, the two basic variations of the station wagon Prius are sold under three different model names: Prius V in the States, Prius Alpha in Japan, and Prius+ (or Prius Plus) in Europe.

While the Prius Alpha was officially launched in Japan yesterday, the Prius+ won't go on sale in Europe until the middle of next year. Toyota's statement yesterday was to reassure eager U.S. buyers that the Prius V will arrive this fall.

The Prius Alpha and Prius Plus have a third row seat, allowing up to seven passengers to be carried in the Prius station wagon or minivan.

To install a third-row seat in the Prius Plus, Toyota replaced its traditional nickel-metal-hydride battery pack--located under the rear load deck in the five-seat Prius V--with a smaller but equally powerful lithium-ion pack located in the tunnel between the front seats.

That makes the 2012 Toyota Prius Alpha the very first production Prius to use a lithium-ion battery pack.

(The 600 prototype models of the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid now being tested also use a lithium-ion pack, but the plug-in Prius won't arrive on the market until next June or thereabouts.)

But when the U.S. gets the 2012 Toyota Prius V this autumn, it will have neither the third row of seats nor the more advanced battery pack. It'll use the same old nickel-metal-hydride technology Toyota has fitted to Prius models since 1997.

But at least, according to Toyota, we'll be able to buy the Prius V starting this fall. As of now, anyhow.

Oh, and the gas mileage? The 2012 Toyota Prius V minivan or station wagon will be rated at 42 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 40 mpg, according to Toyota.

That compares to ratings of 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway, and 50 mpg combined for the standard 2011 Toyota Prius five-door hatchback hybrid.

[AP via Fort Worth Star-Telegram]


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Comments (10)
  1. If this can get a significant number of people out of SUVs, CUVs, and mini-vans, the fuel saving potential is enormous. On the other than, if people intending to buy a normal Prius are the ones that buy the Prius V, then we are going in the other direction.
    Any guess whether Prius V buyers will be new to the Prius market or shifting from the regular Prius?
    And does the "weirdness" factor strike people? Is this just as weird as the normal Prius? less so? more so?

  2. @John Briggs: Good questions for which I suspect only Toyota has comprehensive data.
    I will say that we get steady search traffic for "hybrid minivan," so clearly there are at least investigators out there.
    Personally, I think it's unfortunate that the U.S.-market Prius V isn't better differentiated from the current five-door hatchback, but perhaps that third-row seat will arrive as an option later on, when the supply of lithium-ion battery packs increases.
    Given the higher prices that Toyota can get outside the U.S., it's not surprising that they are maximizing profit (and minimizing risk) by being conservative for the U.S. market. Not to mention, Americans are larger, so the 6th and 7th seats may be a tad too small ...

  3. @Voelcker,
    Thanks for the additional insight.

  4. I'm surprised that the fuel economy is 10 mpg lower for the Prius V compared to the Prius. I understand that the Prius V has the same drive train, is about 6 inches longer, a few inches taller, and has a slightly lower (though still very good) drag coefficient. Presumably it weighs a few hundred pounds more. I was guessing something closer to a 5 mpg reduction in FE for the Prius V compared to the Prius.

  5. @Laura: The difference in consumption between 40 mpg and 50 mpg is only half a gallon every 100 miles, so it's not as large as it may appear. (The "same" 10-mpg difference between 10 and 20 mpg translates to 5 gallons every 100 miles.)

  6. @John, agreed, America would be better off if our standard was gallons per 100 miles rather than mpg. This would be analogous to Europe's liters per 100 km. Nevertheless, based on the difference observed when the same drive train is put into somewhat larger vehicles from other manufacturers, I expected a smaller mpg difference between the Prius and Prius V.

  7. @Laura,
    Pay no attention to Voelcker. He has this useless meme stuck in his head.
    Yes, it is surprising that the Prius has 25% better gas mileage than the Prius V. The increase in frontal area is certainly a factor (Prius V is a taller vehicle). Also, I would guess the drag coefficient of the Prius V would be worse. Weight would also be a factor. The Prius V is presumably heavier than the Prius and this increases the rolling resistance in the tires.
    Still, I find the 25% difference surprising.
    John C. Briggs

  8. John, Since the difference between 40 and 50 MPG is so small, perhaps you will let me store the 4,500 pounds worth fuel at your place. Because that is what the difference actually is over the 150,000 mile life of the vehicles.

  9. @John: Sure. As long as I can store the 45,000 pounds of fuel for the same lifespan that will be saved in trading an old 10-mpg pickup truck, say, for a new 20-mpg one. I think Laura understands the point I made, so how about you and I take what appears to be our permanent disagreement over the importance of actual gallons of gasoline displaced offline ... at least for this particular article?

  10. @Voelcker,
    Take it off line? Suppose for a moment (just a moment) that your guidance was mis-directed. Should I keep quiet about it?
    Of course, since you are right and I am wrong, it would be better for me to keep quiet:).
    John C. Briggs
    P.S. I can't help myself. No one asked you about 10 mpg trucks. You injected it into the conversation. Also, Laura rebuffed your answer rather than being satisfied by it.

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