Toyota begins selling 83-mpg hybrid in Japan

More then 60,000 buyers have signed up to purchase the Aqua subcompact hybrid, which is expected to retail for $22,000 in Japan.

The Prius c.
The Prius c. Toyota

Toyota yesterday opened the order books for its smallest hybrid to thousands of space-conscious, fuel-weary Japanese buyers.

More then 60,000 buyers have signed up to purchase the Aqua subcompact hybrid, which achieves 83 mpg under Japan's JC08 test cycle and is expected to retail for $22,000. Known as the Prius c to the rest of the world, the 1.5-liter hatchback is the same length and width as the pint-sized Yaris, but a little bit shorter to increase aerodynamics.

Its dimensions may sound diminutive to American buyers, but its elfin size and fuel-sipping ways are exactly what's attracting Japanese consumers. With the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Japan hovering around $7 a gallon, sales of the Aqua are expected to be brisk. Toyota plans to move about 12,000 units each month in its homeland.

The Aqua will make its U.S. premier at the 2012 North American International Auto Show next month, and will be marketed as the Prius c--the smallest member of the Prius family.

It features a selectable electric-vehicle mode that can propel the vehicle using only the electric motor. Sales of the Prius c outside of Japan will begin next year, but domestic pricing, U.S. fuel economy estimates, and sale dates were not given.

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