What you are seeing here is a sneak preview of the next generation Toyota Prius, assuming that we have correctly read between the lines of Toyota's carefully crafted press release regarding a progress update of its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform project.
"Toyota will begin rolling out its new platforms with the launch of a midsize front-wheel-drive vehicle this year, followed by specific new platforms for front-wheel-drive compact and large vehicles, as well as for rear-wheel-drive vehicles," said Toyota, along with multiple references to an all-new hybrid powertrain.
In the US, Prius is classified as a midsize class model, along with the Camry.
"By improving thermal efficiency in engines and energy-relay efficiency in transmissions, Toyota has increased the overall fuel efficiency of its powertrains by approximately 25 percent and overall power output by more than 15 percent. Also, by rethinking drive unit layout and making electric motors, inverters and batteries smaller, Toyota expects to improve the overall fuel efficiency of its hybrid vehicle systems by more than 15 percent. Toyota will begin introducing its new powertrain units this year, and will continue to develop innovative new hybrid systems, transmissions and engines," it added.
It could also mean that an all-new generation of Toyota's iconic full hybrid model will make its world debut in late 2015, probably at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show in October.
Toyota also sent out three images of a chassis cut-out but intentionally left out any description for the images.
Closer inspection revealed some clues. The relatively compact engine bay, heavily raked A-pillars extending towards a heavily slanted bonnet (as suggested by the dummy box covering the engine bay) and the rear seats construction suggests that this is hatchback/liftback model - all hallmarks of the current and previous generation Prius.
There appears to be no provision to mount a traction battery in the boot (as in all Prius past and present) but the picture also shows an exposed rear seat frame with a curiously empty space beneath the thin seat cushions. It could be that the new traction battery, which Toyota have said will be made lighter and smaller, will now sit beneath the rear seats. The current Prius c already adopts this layout (below).
Toyota said the new TNGA platform will deliver dividends in the form of "achieving attractive, low-stance designs, responsive handling, a high-quality drive feel, and collision performance that offers safety and peace of mind." It also adds that overall body rigidity have been increased by as much as 30 to 65 percent, aided by adoption of laser screw welding technology.