New BMW i3 spy photos 2011

BMW engineers are busy putting their new line of i-branded vehicles through the winter-ringer, and in addition to testing the i8 hybrid halo, the i3 – possibly the production version of the MegaCity – has been spied taking to the snow.

The shape of the i3 decidedly un-BMW, with its upright, pedestrian-friendly nose, slab sides and bulbous back end. The taillamps fitted to the prototype obviously aren't production-spec, while the thin tire and wheel combo are doing double-duty, blending winter grip with low rolling resistance. The overall shape is rather anonymous, but we're digging the sloped roofline and massive greenhouse, which should make visibility that much better.

Although BMW has confirmed that the passenger cell will be made of carbon fiber, the rest of the chassis is likely to employ plenty of aluminum to keep the curb weight in check. What we don't know is what kind of powertrain is fitted underneath and which wheels are driven. Our sources indicate that the i3's architecture will be rear-wheel drive, but there's still some question whether the smallest i will be a hybrid or an electric vehicle. If it's the latter, expect a 0-60 mph time of around 10 seconds and a range that tops out near 100 miles. Sales are slated to begin in late 2013, right after the range-topping i8 hits the market.

Toyota Prius V wagon coming in Japan 2011

Over the last 11 years, more than a million Prius hybrids have been sold in the U.S. With that level of success it is, in Toyota's estimation, a perfect time for the Prius brand to expand into the crossover MPV segment. To that end, the wagon-like Toyota Prius V has officially entered production and will make its global sales debut in April over in Japan.

The 2012 Prius V comes packing most of the hybrid hardware found in the standard Prius. The MPV has 34.3 cubic feet of interior space, 38 inches of rear leg room and five inches of additional length over the standard Prius. Even with the extra girth, the Prius V boasts a fuel economy rating that most vehicles in its class simply can't match. How high? The spacious MPV nets 42 miles per gallon in the city and a lofty 38 mpg on the highway.

With production of the Prius V underway and its U.S. launch scheduled for early 2012, it'll be interesting to see how sales of all of Toyota's hybrids – which recently eclipsed the three-million mark – are boosted after the plus-sized Prius hits the market.