By Andrew Ganz
Friday, May 13th, 2011 @ 7:18 pm
Toyota says that it accepted 25,000 orders in Japan for its larger Prius Alpha model - known overseas as the Prius V and Prius+ - ahead of its official on sale date today.

Despite being delayed by the magnitude-9 earthquake and resulting tsunami that rocked Japan two months ago, the automaker saw high demand for the three-row version of its standard Prius. The automaker says that orders in Japan are more than eight times its intended 3,000 unit per month target.

Available in both five and seven-seat configurations in Japan, the Prius Alpha is about twice as fuel thrifty as most equivalently sized vehicles. The five seat model features carryover nickel metal hydride battery technology, but the seven seater uses pricier, lighter and smaller lithium ion batteries.

Pricing in Japan starts at around $29,000. The automaker has always had strong demand for the Prius in its home market and it anticipates the same for its larger Prius variation. Sales estimates for North America and Europe are around 2,000 units monthly each.

UPDATE on North American arrival
At its press introduction earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Toyota told reporters that it planned to put the Prius V on sale in North America in April or May of this year. Obviously, april came and went and we're halfway through May without the Prius V, but that delay was due to unforseen circumstances coming from the earthquake that rocked Japan.

Reports earlier today suggested a second delay might push North American Prius V sales into 2012, but Toyota's North American operations have announced that the delay of the Japan-market Prius Alpha is due to the earthquake, but all indicators suggest the Prius V will come to North America this fall.

Currently, Toyota says it can only build 1,000 Prius Vs with the advanced lithium ion battery a month, although it is capable of assembling around 2,000 nickel metal hydride versions. As a result, it says that export models might not be built until production is ramped up toward the end of 2011.

1.'Toyota's new Prius...' view

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