Toyota’s Yaris model has never been a priority in the Japanese automaker’s marketing plans for the United States, but in Europe, it’s the company’s best-selling core model and the largest “unit in operation” in European fleets. So when info about the long-awaited hybrid version of the car leaks out, it’s big news to fans and followers of alt-fuel auto news. Toyota recently released some photos and stats about the new Yaris hybrid ahead of its big debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
The Yaris Hybrid will be Europe’s first full hybrid in the B-segment. In Europe, the term B-segment refers to the size of the car. B-segment autos are roughly equivalent to what are called subcompacts in the U.S., and includes cars the likes of the Chevy Aveo, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Suzuki SX4 and the Mini Cooper. Here in the States these tiny gas sippers constitute a young but growing portion of the auto market, but in Europe they comprise one of the most crucial segments and are absolutely vital to an automaker’s well being. For Toyota, obviously, there’s a lot riding on this release.
Toyota says the new Yaris will feature a smaller, lighter version of its Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which has been in operation since 1997. Toyota says the iteration combines a new, 1.5-liter gasoline engine with a lighter, more compact electric motor, transaxle, inverter and battery pack, the new system is 20 percent lighter than that of an Auris Hybrid, which uses the same powertrain found in the Prius. Toyota says this new combo is expected to produce 98 horsepower. Unfortunately, the company has yet to release any other performance metrics, such as top speed, acceleration or torque. We’re also still waiting on emissions and fuel economy figures – as well as info about electric-only range, which should emerge as the Geneva show draws closer. All that reduction in engine, motor and battery size, however, has insured that the new hybrid features identical occupant space and the same 286-liter luggage capacity found in conventional models.
There’s no pricing information available yet, but Toyota promises that the Yaris Hybrid will be the most affordable full hybrid vehicle available in the European market. Standard equipment on the Yaris will include an automatic transmission and air conditioning. Look for the hybrid on European roads this summer.