DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp. plans to regain momentum in the United States with a four-model Prius family that will add a plug-in model, a wagon and a version with extremely high fuel economy.
"We're going to plant a family tree and watch it grow," Bob Carter, general manager of Toyota Division, said at the Detroit auto show.
The three new models:
1. The Prius V wagon seats five passengers, with 50 percent more interior cargo space than the current Prius. It will have the same powertrain and is expected to get 42 mpg on the highway and 38 mpg in city driving. It will go on sale this summer.
2. The Prius Plug-in, meant to challenge the Chevrolet Volt, will have a hybrid powertrain that can travel up to 13 miles on batteries alone. A 110-volt system will recharge the lithium ion battery in three hours; a 220-volt system will do so in 90 minutes.
In the first half of next year, Toyota plans to introduce its plug-in in 14 states on the East and West coasts. Nationwide sales begin a year later.
3. A car based on the Prius c Concept shown in Detroit will have the best fuel economy of any U.S. cordless hybrid, Carter said, and will be priced lower than the current Prius. Introduction is planned in the first half of 2012.
Carter told reporters that Toyota hoped to sell 12,000 to 20,000 plug-ins in the first year of sales.
He predicted the Prius Plug-in will be cheaper than the $40,000 Volt. While the Prius Plug-in will not match the Volt's 40-mile range on batteries alone, the Prius' lithium ion battery pack will be considerably smaller and therefore cheaper.
Other Prius hybrids will use Toyota's nickel-metal hydride batteries, Carter said.
Toyota's joint venture with Panasonic will produce lithium ion batteries for the plug-in, plus nickel-metal hydride batteries for the other Prius models.
Toyota offered few details about the c Concept. Since it will be smaller than the current Prius, the Prius c could use parts from the Toyota Yaris.
Prius sales in the United States last year were 140,928, up 1 percent from 2009. Carter predicts the four-model Prius family eventually will match demand for the Camry, which had sales of 327,804 units last year, down 8 percent from 2009.