Sunday - 31/01/2016
The Prius was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid, appearing on the market in Japan in 1997 and sold globally in 2000. The Prius has constantly evolved to meet every challenge and stay at the forefront of hybrid technology. The history of the Prius since its debut in 1997 is a fascinating one and showcases the enormous strides taken in developing an iconic vehicle for our times.
The new Prius that you will be seeing—and probably driving in 2016—will be the fourth generation. It’s a truly exciting development in the series.
The first generation Prius stunned the automotive world. But that was just the start with more exciting developments on the horizon.
The second generation Prius arrived in 2003. It was completely redesigned to be larger, with improved aerodynamics and even better fuel economy.
The third generation in 2009 built on previous achievements in every aspect, taking advantage of continuous research and world-class technology.
When the fourth generation Prius was unveiled in September of 2015, it not only offered significantly improved fuel economy in a more compact package and attractive design, but it was lighter, roomier and performed even better than previous models.
So, the Prius just gets better and better. And the world has recognized its advantages. Over 3.5 million satisfied customers have put their faith in the Prius to make it the world’s most popular hybrid.
Combining a gasoline engine and an electric motor, this vehicle benefits from the best features of both. The batteries, made more compact to hide under the rear seats, are continuously charged when braking and decelerating—so you don’t need to plug in a power cord as you would with electric-only vehicles. And, of course, you also don’t have to stop for gasoline as much as you would with a conventional gasoline vehicle. The new Prius offers superb energy efficiency. What’s not to like?
Building firmly on the environmentally friendly credentials of its predecessors, the new Prius model’s fuel economy reaches an outstanding 40.8 km/litre which is more than 20 percent better compared to the previous model, and makes it superior to any other hybrid vehicle in its class. As Chief Engineer Kouji Toyoshima explains, “This is something that we accomplished through incremental improvements, with each new innovation contributing to the overall result”.
As part of this process, every feature had to evolve—not only the hybrid system, but also the engine and aerodynamics.
The hybrid system was extensively re-engineered. Both motors now incorporate an innovative rolling-coil structure. The control systems have been completely revised down to the smallest components. The vehicle is lighter, more compact and has better performance. The thermal efficiency of the 1.8-litre gasoline engine is better—40 percent compared to about 20 to 30 percent for ordinary gasoline engines. The new Prius retains its distinctive triangular silhouette but the peak of the roof has been moved forward; it is not only more attractive—it delivers improved aerodynamics. The drag coefficient is better too, achieving a distinctly world-class level of 0.24.
The new Prius is the first vehicle developed using Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which aims at modularizing in addition to integrating development and manufacturing, allowing more time for design.
Using this system, the skeletal structure of the Prius was improved with an increase in torsional rigidity of more than 60 percent compared to previous models, maximizing the performance of the suspension for better control and a quieter, more stable ride. TNGA offers not only improved handling, but also enhanced overall driving performance and fuel economy—not to mention more attractive styling.
TNGA sounds pretty technical. To really understand it, you have to drive a new Prius. Get behind the wheel, step on the accelerator—and you will be surprised. You get an instant response—swift and seamless acceleration with the electric motor shifting automatically to the gasoline engine at a certain speed. It’s smooth, quiet and powerful. TNGA puts the fun back into driving in a way you never imagined was possible.
The Prius has always been at the forefront of automotive evolution. Even its name, “Prius” is derived from “prior” in Latin—which means “coming before”. The Prius is always the first, in every way.
The fourth generation Prius is a world beater—the culmination of almost two decades of experience and development. To paraphrase Chief Engineer Toyoshima: “It was relatively easy for Usain Bolt to run a hundred meters in 10 seconds—it was quite another thing for him to break the world record with a 9.58 second dash. Coming first requires huge effort. But if you keep on working at it, you can achieve it. That’s our philosophy in developing the Prius, “Ever better.”
The analogy is a good one. The new nose-down Prius even looks like a runner in the starting blocks. And it performs like a top-class sprinter, too.
The challenges to the Prius were many—but overcome with Toyota’s famously relentless Kaizen development process. The result is a vehicle that not only provides great fuel economy, but is also fun to drive. It gets your pulse racing. Drive the new Prius and you will feel the difference. This is the cutting edge. A better way to the future. It will change your perception of what an eco-friendly car should be like to drive and to look at.