Have you seen these official-but-leaked photographs of the new Toyota Prius hybrid car? They've been doing the rounds on the internet for a few days, but now they've been confirmed as genuine pictures of the new petrol-electric battery Prius.
The third-generation Prius (the Japanese are light years
ahead of their European and American rivals – they've been building production hybrids for a decade while the rest of the world dithers) will be shown at the 2009 Detroit auto show in January, so we'll have to wait a while longer for the full official story. UK sales are poised for later in 2009.
New Toyota Prius: the story so far
The new Prius will stick with nickel-metal hydride batteries rather than the newer, mobile-phone style lithium-ion batteries everyone else is developing. Don't doubt for a moment, however, that the new Prius will shirk from cutting-edge tech.
Toyota's engineers claim the battery pack is way simpler and more robust than an equivalent lithium-ion unit – and it'll cost a reasonable £700 should it ever need to be replaced. Emissions tumble from today's 104g/km of CO2 to just 95g/km in Normal mode and 89g/km in Eco mode.
And this is the first time we'll see a whole family of new Prius models, rather than today's standalone curiosity beloved of the greens, local councils and celebrities in need of an eco makeover. The hatchback pictured is the first to arrive and carves a carefully evolved look from today's aero-slippery shape, but with a hint of iQ city car front end.
In 2010, we'll see a Prius MPV; in 2011 a seven-seater XXL wagon is coming; and the plug-in hybrid Prius is also due in 2011. Sounds hybrids are about to go mainstream.
Click here for CAR Online's full scoop on all the new Toyota hybrids being planned