An enlarged version of the Toyota Prius, the world's most popular hybrid vehicle, has gone on sale in Japan, but it has emerged that buyers could be in for a wait as the effects of the Japanese earthquake continue to disrupt supply chains.

The Prius Alpha, a wagon version of the ultra-efficient Prius, launched May 13 in Japan, with Toyota revealing it has taken 25,000 orders for the new Prius models.

The launch was originally scheduled for April, but was postponed following the devastating earthquake which hit Japan in March.

Now, Toyota says it will begin fulfilling the orders as quickly as it can, although the initial reservations far outstripped the automaker's projections of 3000 models a month.

The new model is available in two interior configurations: a five-seat, two-row model and a seven-seat, three-row model, which can manage a fuel efficiency of 3.22 l/100km.

They retail for 2.35 million yen (around €20,400) in Japan, and although both are set to be exported to North America and Europe, it looks like that may not happen for some time.

The five-seat model, headed for the US as the 'Prius v,' is now planned for launch in North America this summer according to Toyota, several months behind schedule.

However, the seven-seater, which is headed for Europe as the 'Prius +' uses a different type of battery technology, supply of which has been significantly disrupted by the earthquake, according to reports.

This means that European buyers won't be able to get their hands on a new model until mid-2012, and buyers in other markets will have to wait too - Toyota has received orders for 7,000 of the seven-seaters but can build only 1,000 a month.

A statement on the automaker's website described the delay as "unavoidable" but said that it apologized for any inconvenience caused.

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