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Ultra-Green: Radical 100-MPG Toyota Prius in the Works for 2009

TOKYO ?? Expect something amazing from the next Toyota Prius ?? like fuel economy that pushes past the 100-mpg barrier.

Due in two years as a 2009 model, the next Prius is set to be an evolution, company sources say. The hybrid will retain the same basic 1.5-liter hybrid drivetrain. But Toyota is now on a mission to do two things: drive the economy ratings skyward, and cut the associated costs by 20-30 percent.

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.

Honda is currently winning the hybrid image war in Japan with the tiny Insight coupe, which manages 102 mpg in Japan's standard fuel cycle. The Prius is just a whisker behind at 99 mpg (35 km/l). But now comes news that Toyota is determined to hit 40 km/l (113 mpg) with the next Prius. Of course, these are Japanese fuel-economy figures, which will not translate directly to real-world driving conditions in the U.S.

Sources say the next Prius will also be able to run longer and faster in pure electric mode, up to a sustained 30 mph, which will significantly extend its zero-emissions range.

What this means to you: The Prius right now is massive in North America. Imagine what the next one will be like, with even better economy and value. Line

Ultra-Green: Radical 100-MPG Toyota Prius in the Works for 2009
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