While the all-electric cars being launched as 2011 models--the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, and Coda Sedan--get lots of attention, their total U.S. sales won't break 100,000 in their first year.
Toyota, on the other hand, sells more than twice that number of hybrids here each year, making it by far the largest manufacturer of electric-drive vehicles in the world. In January, it announced plans to expand its Prius hybrid model into an entire line of vehicles.
rendering of 2011 Toyota Prius Alpha people carrier from Japanese magazine
2011 Toyota Auris Hybrid - European model
Those plans are still far from clear, and several contenders are rumored for the U.S. market. The possibilities include:
- 2012 Prius Alpha small minivan or "people mover," in five- or seven-seat versions;
- European Auris Hybrid compact five-door hatchback; and
- Coupe model of existing 2010 Toyota Prius
Making the discussion more alluring, the seven-seat model of the Prius Alpha minivan is said to be the first-ever Prius to go into production with a lithium-ion battery pack--although the five-seat model may stick with the tried-and-true nickel-metal-hydride.
Tell us which model(s) you think would make most sense for expanding the Prius lineup. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!