The new car could be the first high-volume vehicle to use a lithium-ion battery, which is smaller, more powerful and has a longer life-cycle than the nickel-metal hydride battery pack in the current Prius.
The newspaper reported that the pricing was likely to be around that of the Prius sedan but could possibly undercut it slightly.
Toyota refused to confirm or deny the rumours, but with a company ambition to have a hybrid in every model by 2020, expansion of the hybrid range in the near future is inevitable.
A Prius SUV could prove to be a challenging concept for environmentalists who have long worshiped Toyota’s fuel-sipping, tree-hugging hybrid and condemned the big and bulky, carbon-belching crossover.
by Tim Beissmann