Just minutes ago, Toyota unveiled their new family of Prius vehicles at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. Once the gold standard for energy-efficient cars, the company has faced rapidly growing competition over the last few years from rivals interested in both hybrid and electric vehicle technology. Never one to shy away from forward-thinking, eco-innovation, their new line of Prius vehicles not only grows upon an established name, but brings forth a three-piece collection that will accommodate all size needs – be it spacious or small. Amongst the three new game-changing hybrids, it’s their new, tiny prototype that’s really anticipated to make heads turn when it hits the market next year. Designed with young drivers in mind, this urban mobility vehicle is not only more compact than the standard Prius, but boasts a significantly more fuel-efficient hybrid engine.

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Toyota’s new variant, called the Prius V, will offer 50% more cargo space than the current Prius. It has a slightly higher roof line, and will look similar to the company’s Matrix minivan model. Two other hybrid vehicles will also be branded with the Prius mark – one will be a smaller car, about the size of Toyota’s Yaris subcompact, and the second a plug-in Prius, whose battery can be recharged from a power outlet, but will still have a gasoline engine. The vehicles are all due out on the market by the end of 2012, with the smallest compact concept expected to hit the market early next year.

Toyota is hoping that by expanding their Prius line, they’ll be able to recover from the fallout of its massive recall last year. As it stands, the U.S. remains the company’s largest market. James Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales, said he believes the Prius nameplate will be the best-selling in the company’s U.S. portfolio, surpassing the Camry, by 2020.

+ Toyota