It appears that a lot of auto makers will be introducing mini minivans. One such company is Toyota. Look for a new Toyota Prius minivan, called the Alpha, to be introduced in March of next year. Besides being one of the first mini minivans, the Alpha will be the first Prius to feature lithium-ion batteries. Toyota has been using nickel-metal hydride batteries. The lithium-ion battery pack is one-third the weight of the nickel variety.
The Alpha uses the current Prius sedan platform but has an extra row of back seats. Thus, it becomes a minivan. A five-seat model is also coming soon, but it will be powered by the nickel-metal hydride battery. There is talk that Toyota will also be offering a seven seat version. The Alpha is about 1-foot longer than the conventional Prius and the wheel base is about 1-inch longer.
The Alpha will include a gasoline engine that will generate 98 horsepower and the electric motor is expected to produce 81 horsepower. The maximum combined power outlet is said to be 135 horsepower.