Although Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe announced that a new Lexus dedicated hybrid would be introduced way back in January, Toyota made it official-official in an Automotive News article released today:
Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday fired a fresh volley in the green car wars, promising two new hybrid vehicles and the start of lithium-ion battery production next year.
The two hybrids–one badged a Toyota, the other a Lexus–will debut at the Detroit auto show and come on top of the third-generation Prius car, also due in 2009.
Toyota didn’t give further details about the upcoming vehicles. But Masatami Takimoto, executive vice president in charge of r&d, said the Toyota will be larger than the Prius.
“It’s a totally new car,” Takimoto said in Tokyo.
It’s been long expected that this new Lexus hybrid would be a rebadged Toyota Prius, but this new quote from Takimoto makes me think otherwise. Instead, it’s quite possible that this new Toyota hybrid might be the closer relation.