Toyota Motor Sales USA has priced the redesigned 2010 Prius from US$21,000 (plus a $750 delivery charge). Sales begin late next month.

The US version will be offered with five levels of popular standard equipment combinations.

Toyota Division head Bob Carter sees the most popular model starting at $22,000, equipped with a high level of standard features.

"This model provides more than $2,000 added value, including the features most buyers want, at the same price as the current base model," he said.

A new base model with a lower level of standard equipment is scheduled to be available later this year.  It is designed to appeal to the most cost-conscious businesses and consumers.

Late in March, Toyota was reported to be planning to continue selling the current Prius alongside the new model at a reduced price in Japan to help counter the successful new Honda Insight, which had by then drawn 21,000 orders, and will also go head to head with the Prius in the US where prices start at $19,800.

Local media said Toyota would launch the next generation Prius in mid-May at JPY2.05m (US$20,940), or roughly US$3,000 less than its smaller, less powerful and less fuel-efficient predecessor.