The strength of the Japanese yen seems almost certain to keep a production version of Toyota's near-80mpg hybrid supermini based on the Prius C Concept hatch out of Europe.
The Auris hybrid and forthcoming Yaris hybrid (with which the C Concept, revealed at the recent Detroit motor show, shares a platform) are built in the UK and France respectively, which gives them much stronger profit margins than a small Prius model sourced from Japan.
However, despite the supermini being unlikely to reach Europe in production form, the concept has been conceived with European-flavoured driving characteristics. “European drivers demand a high level of agility and feedback in their driving, so our planning is taking that into account,” said chief designer Elvio d’Aprile.
Toyota's ED2 design studio in Nice chosen to develop the concept because of its ability to breathe a European design flavour into a car that will have to sell well in Japan and the US when it is launched in 2012.
Toyota has yet to reveal any fuel economy figures, although the company did confirm that the Prius supermini’s fuel economy would surpass that of the 70mpg Prius hatch. That would suggest a combined figure of close to 80mpg.