Toyota plans to roll out 2 new cars under Prius name, aiming to expand hybrid brand

By Dan Strumpf, AP
Friday, October 8, 2010

Toyota to roll out 2 new cars under Prius name

NEW YORK — Toyota plans to roll out two new cars under the Prius name by next year, according to a dealer briefed on the plans, as the automaker seeks to turn its popular hybrid into a family of vehicles.

The Japanese automaker will begin selling a Prius station wagon starting next summer as either a 2011 or 2012 model, said Adam Lee, president of the Lee Auto Malls chain of dealerships in Maine. It will sell a plug-in version of the Prius that can get 30 miles on a charge starting later in the year, he said.

Toyota unveiled the new vehicles at its annual dealer meeting in Los Vegas this week. Lee was briefed on the new models by the manager of his Toyota dealership, who was in attendance.

Toyota spokesman Sam Butto declined to comment on any specific product plans,

“We will be coming out with some additional Prius products, but that’s really all I can say at this time,” Butto said.

Toyota has said in the past it hopes to expand the Prius name to a family of vehicles. The Prius is the best-selling hybrid in the U.S., but sales have been flat this year as the automaker continues to suffer from the fallout from huge recalls.

The automaker has recalled more than 10 million cars and trucks worldwide over the last year for a variety of problems, including a problem with the antilock braking system in its Prius hybrid and a Lexus hybrid. Toyota said this week it had fixed 86 percent of the hybrids recalled over the braking problem.

Also at the dealer meeting this week, Toyota President Akio Toyoda sought to reassure the company’s 1,200 U.S. dealers that the company is on track for sales growth in the U.S., Toyota said in a statement on Thursday. The company also told dealers of plans to make standard a free maintenance program that it first rolled out earlier this year.

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