Many people continue to debate whether the 2010 Prius or the 2011 Volt will be the better choice. We know the Volt will cost close to $40,000 but be eligible for $7,500 in tax credits already approved.

We now have more information about the new Prius which will go on sale in the US in May 2009. It has the next generation synergy hybrid drivetrain, has gotten official EPA rating of 50 mpg city and 49 mpg highway, and is considered a mid-sized car. Through aerodynamic tweaking including introducing sharp corners like the Volt, the car has the lowest CD of any production car at 0.25.

It will use a larger 1.8 L 4 cylinder 98 horsepower engine which can do 0 to 60 in 9.5 seconds. It uses a CVT transmission with a 80 hp electric motor, and a 200 volt nickel metal hydride battery.

The car will be up against the new Honda Insight set to go on sale for under $19,000. Toyota Manger Bob Carter acknowledges "We will face many challenges when the Prius goes on sale -- the economy and the Honda Insight," but also says "We are absolutely confident Prius will remain the hybrid leader."

The car offers high end options like automatic parking and a solar roof that powers a ventilation fan. This might make it more costly. Pricing isn't set, but when asked whether the sticker for a loaded 2010 Prius will top $30,000, Doug Coleman, product manager for the Prius, said, "I wouldn't doubt it." Other reports suggest the car will start at $24,500.

Interestingly a new report indicates that Toyota is planning to introduce a limited supply of plug-in versions of the new Prius in Japan later this year and will begin global sales of those in 2010. Those plug-in third generation Priuses will use lithium ion batteries, have an electric range less than 20 miles, and will cost under $42,000. Exactly how much under we do not know.

Source ( Automotive News ) , ( Popular Mechanics ), ( Autocar )