Lightweight, 500cc, plug-in Prius set to make headlines at Tokyo show

Anyone looking for clues as to what the next Toyota Prius will look like should book their plane ticket for the Tokyo motor show later this month, stop by the Toyota stand, and give this 1/X concept a look over. That’s not to say it is the new Prius, but one derivation of what tomorrow’s Prius family could serve up. 1/X comes to the show as a small, light, ultra economy concept, offering the same cabin space as today’s Prius, but in a very different format.

Next Prius: light, rear-engined, and ‘plug-in’?

The 1/X’s body design, especially that gently curving roofline, certainly has the Prius house style about it, but what’s underneath it is radically different. Toyota probably won’t welcome the comparison, but the 1/X takes the rear engine/rear-drive format from the tiny Mitsubishi i minicar and gives it a new twist. The 1/X sports a tiny, two-cylinder 500 cc ‘flexible fuel’ engine under its rear seat. This links to a plug-in hybrid system to deliver outstanding economy and clean emissions. Simply a mock-up at the show, 1/X comes with a lightweight, carbon-fibre frame and very little in the way of body. The idea is that it’s one third of the weight of the Prius, with 50 cent better economy, while also offering the same amount of room inside. The rear-engine format clearly helps with the packaging breakthrough and smooths a lot of hurdles with pedestrian safety regs along the way. All the same, fully laden and with only 500 cc hybrid power at its disposal, the 1/X may not be a stellar to drive, although in an extreme lean and green concept like this, that’s not really the point. Seating four, the 1/X is about 10mm narrower and 12mm lower than a Yaris, but also about 15mm longer. It’ll unquestionably be one of the standout models at the show.

Peter Nunn

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