Recently, a commenter asked if he (or it could be a she?) should wait for the next Prius. I told them that next years Prius would be fairly similar, but the next generation Prius would be several years away. I've been looking into it a little more and thought I would share the information I had found on what the next generation Prius would be like.
According to Edmunds, the next generation Prius (2009?) will not only change its styling, but will increase its fuel economy a little bit. The current Prius is rated at 99 mpg (35 km/l), while the next generation has a goal of 40 km/l (113 mpg). These are Japanese fuel-economy figures, which will not translate directly to real-world driving conditions in the U.S.
Most reports seem to indicate that the giant improvements will come from the replacement of nickel-metal hydride batteries with lithium-ion batteries, along with various improvements to the electrical engine.
Because of changes in the way the EPA rates fuel economy, the current Prius is expected to lose that 60 mpg rating, but instead will sit at the 40-45 mpg range it currently sits at in real-world numbers.
At the same time, the next Prius will be able to run longer and faster in electric mode.
The final design is (supposedly) similar to the Hybrid X concept car.
According to one Edmunds article:
Toyota was rocked when news seeped out that Honda was planning a low price Fit hybrid for 2008, with the price differential just 200,000 yen (some $1,700) more than the regular gasoline version. So work on the next Prius has redoubled to slash R&D costs and halve Toyota's current hybrid differential of 500,000 yen (some $4,240) to compete.
Recent reports say that Toyota wants the profit from a hybrid car to be on par with a conventional gas-only car by 2010.
Other rumors on the net indicate the Prius will come in three different sizes, ranging from a compact to a full size sedan. With the popularity of the prius and given Toyotas stated goal of selling one million hybrids worldwide a year in 2010, this could be a smart move on their part to capitalize on the namesake.
Sources: Next-Generation Toyota Prius Promises Improved Mileage and Unique Styling
Ultra-Green: Radical 100-MPG Toyota Prius in the Works for 2009
Next Generation Prius: 94 MPG in 2008?
Rumors Rampant: Next-Gen 94MPG Prius by 2008?