A new report says Toyota is introducing a Prius minivan next year. Said to have three rows of seats, the people carrier will rely on lithium-ion batteries for its hybrid powertrain.

A report from the Nikkei business daily in Japan says Toyota is planning on releasing a Prius Hybrid minivan in 2011. It is said the new derivative will feature three rows of seats for between five and seven passengers in total. Interior space will also be greatly improved.

According to the report, the powertrain will be based on lithium-ion battery technology. Therefore fuel economy will improve and weight kept to an optimal level.

Toyota is a world leader in automotive hybrid systems manufacturing. Plans are to initially produce these lithium-ion batteries at the company factory in Aichi Prefecture. Panasonic EV Energy Co, a joint venture with Panasonic, will take over production at a later stage.


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