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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Australia has admitted the popularity of the Toyota Prius c Concept and the feedback it receives from visitors at the 2011 Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne will help determine whether the production vehicle will be sold in Australia.

The Prius c Concept was originally revealed at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. At that time, Toyota confirmed a production vehicle based on the c Concept would go on sale in the US in the first half of 2012.

The c Concept shares its hybrid hardware and underpinnings with the standard Prius hatch, although it is 560mm shorter – making it a true, modern, downsized city vehicle.

Toyota Australia senior executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner, said the brand would listen closely to public opinion at the motor show in Melbourne to see whether Australians were interested in a smaller hybrid with a lower price and potentially even better fuel economy.

“This car has the core Prius values based on Toyota’s proven Hybrid Synergy Drive technology – strong performance, great fuel economy and ultra-low emissions,” Mr Buttner said.

“We are bringing it to the Australian Motor Show to test its appeal among buyers who we expect will come from a different group to those attracted to the current Prius.”

Mr Buttner said Toyota believed the c Concept would be more popular among “young singles and couples” that were after a vehicle that offered “outstanding fuel economy while being fun to drive”.

No official timing has been announced for a potential Australian introduction.

The c Concept would give Toyota Australia a vehicle to compete with the smaller Honda Insight, which has a starting price around $10,000 below the current entry-level Prius ($29,990 vs $39,900).

So far this year, the Insight has outsold the Prius, with the Honda recording 121 sales compared with the Toyota’s 101.

If you could see yourself driving the Prius c Concept, it sounds like it might be a good idea to head along to the 2011 Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne from July 1-10 and tell the folk at the Toyota stand all about it.