( Worldcarfans ) - Company sources at Tokyo have confirmed to Automotive News that Toyota plan to slot a station wagon model into the next-generation Prius' line-up. Intent on meeting the company's annual global hybrid sales target of 1 million units a year, it is hoped that a wagon will complement the existing sedan guise and aid in achieving this target.
Sales forecasts for this year project Toyota and Lexus hybrids at 450,000 units, up by almost 50 percent from last year's 312,519 sales figure, with the Prius accounting for nearly three quarters of all hybrid sales.
A target market which has already proved to be popular by utilising the present Prius sedan model is that of small courier and taxi services due to its low running costs and high fuel economy, particularly in cities. The wagon would therefore allow greater load-lugging capabilities and further expand the commercial market for the hybrid. With the next-gen Prius set to be larger than the outgoing model, taxi firms will have three full seats in the rear at their disposal - the wagon further enhancing the appeal. Of course, these advantages naturally transfer to the needs of the private market, the Wagon's added practicality adding yet another reason for consumers to choose a Prius.
The next-generation Toyota Prius is scheduled to enter the Japanese market in the summer of 2009, with European and US markets following suit shortly afterwards. A Wagon variant is expected to be on showroom floors by 2011.