Mike Stevens | Nov 16, 2009

BUILDING ON NEWS in August that Toyota has developed advanced lithium-ion battery technology, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri is reporting that larger Toyota hybrids are on the way.

While the carmaker's current hybrid models use older nickel-metal hydride systems, the new models - possibly a wagon or an SUV - would utilise the higher output and capacity offered by lithium-ion technology.

The report suggests that the new model would sell in Japan for the equivalent of $23,500. The report did not specify if this figure included the numerous government subsidies offered for eco-friendly cars in Japan.

The Yomiuiri newspaper said that Toyota in Japan had declined to comment on its future hybrid models, but that it believes the new model would appear before the end of next year.

Toyota is keeping quiet on the details of its new technology, but Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported in August that the new batteries could extend the range of an electric vehicle almost tenfold.

Toyota already offers a hybrid SUV in the form of the Lexus RX 450h, but like the Prius, it uses a nickel-metal hydride battery in its combined petrol-electric system.

The world number one carmaker unveiled a Prius-based wagon last year in the form of the Toyota Hybrid X (top), featuring design and technology elements that the carmaker said could feature in future hybrid models.

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