Toyota Planning Yaris-Based Hybrid
Honda planned its new Insight hybrid to cost less than Toyota’s ubiquitous Prius in hopes of snagging economy-minded hybrid shoppers. Unfortunately for Honda, the Insight wasn’t quite the bargain they’d hoped for. Despite rumors of an $18,500 base MSRP during planning, the Insight ended up just a few grand away from the Prius at $20,470 base (including delivery charge). And now Toyota is returning the favor, telling Automotive News [sub] that it’s planning a Yaris-based “economy hybrid” to undercut the Insight. “We are going to compete by expanding our hybrid-vehicle lineup to smaller hybrids, in the class of the Vitz and Yaris,” says Prisu chief designer Akihiko Otsuka, using both the Japanese domestic and overseas market names for Toyota’s supermini. The implication is that this baby hybrid will hit all of Toyota’s major markets possibly beginning as early as 2011. But Honda isn’t taking the news sitting down reminding AN that a Fit Hybrid is also being planned which could bring Honda’s hybrid entry cost down even further. All of which is good news for hybrids, which seem ready to finally leave behind their eco-accessory reputation and get stuck into some good, old-fashioned value competition.