Toyota Introduces Compact Hybrid to Japanese Market

On Monday, the Toyota Motor Corporation introduced a compact gasoline/electric hybrid vehicle for its home market. The car, which will be sold as the Toyota Aqua in Japan, was introduced at a Tokyo news conference and will eventually be available in other markets, including the United States, as the Prius C.

The Aqua is built on a 102-inch wheelbase and is equipped with a 72-horsepower 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a 60-horsepower electric motor that draws power from a nickel-metal hydride battery. Toyota, in a media release, cited a zero to 100 km/h (62 m.p.h.) acceleration of 10.7 seconds.

The Aqua achieves 35.4 kilometers on a liter of fuel in Japan’s JC08 test cycle. That compares with 32.6 kilometers a liter for the Prius, which has a wheelbase of 111 inches and more power. Based on those figures, the Aqua is about 8.5 percent more fuel efficient than the Prius. If that ratio holds true for the United States.-market Prius C, it could hit an E.P.A. combined fuel economy rating of about 54 m.p.g.

Standard equipment for the Japan-market Aqua includes antilock brakes, vehicle stability control, traction control, air-conditioning and heated seats. Upgrade packages include such features as a backup camera, six-speaker stereo system and an advanced instrument panel display. The most basic Aqua model is priced at 1.69 million yen, which is about $21,600. The Prius starts at 2.17 million yen in Japan, or about $27,800.

Toyota hopes to sell 12,000 Aquas a month in its home market. A United States introduction date and pricing for the Prius C have not been announced