Toyota was the first company to offer the world Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle technology in its faithful commitment to create energy-efficient and zero-emissions vehicles. Today, with the launch of the 2nd generation Prius Plug-in Hybrid, it is taking a step forwards to be in line with the company’s 2050 Environmental Challenge to reduce CO2 emissions by 90%.
A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV) is a hybrid vehicle that uses rechargeable batteries, or another energy storage device, that can be recharged by plugging it in to an external source of electric power. A PHV shares the characteristics both of a conventional hybrid vehicle, having an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, and of an all-electric vehicle, having a plug to connect to the electrical grid.
What makes the new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid stand out of the crowd ?
1. An advanced technology flagship with world’s first solar roof charging system. The roof of the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid can incorporate a large solar panel which generates electricity to charge the hybrid system battery (both while is parked and during driving); the solar charging can increase the EV driving range up to 5 km per day and up to 1000 km per annum;
2. The air-conditioning is powered by a gas injection heat pump – world first technology – which will heat the cabin in outside temperature as low as -10 degrees C, without starting the engine, hence minimizing the impact which heating the interior has on both fuel consumption and EV driving range;
3. During the charging, a new battery warming system will warm the cells to an efficient working temperature in outside conditions as cold as -20 degrees C. This ensures that both battery power and efficiency are maintained as a sufficient level to minimize the impact of cold weather on EV driving range, with full power available from start off in even very cold conditions;
4. A faster battery charging. The battery maximum charging power increased from 2 to 3.3 kW and can be fully charged up to 65% more quickly; in only 2 hours using a specific connector and 3 hours and 10 minutes using a standard household plug socket. Moreover, the larger lithium-ion battery pack allows drivers to remain in EV mode for a range of over 50 km and at speeds up to 135 km/h;
5. The Dual Motor Drive System it’s Toyota’s first hybrid powertrain. This boosts EV driving power for better acceleration, an even more engaging performance and a maximum EV driving speed of 135 km/h, whilst reducing engine start up frequency;
6. The slim 4-LED headlamp units features new Adaptive Headlamp System (AHS) technology. AHS reduces power consumption by automatically shading light beam areas occupied by preceding and oncoming vehicles. It also maximises the time during which the driver can use the high beam setting for optimum visibility;
7. The Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) tailgate (a world first for mass production vehicles) reduces weight to further enhance the hybrid drive system’s efficiency;
8. The Toyota Safety System incorporates a Pre-Collision System with pedestrian recognition function, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beam, Road Sign Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control which can slow the car to a standstill when necessary, contributing all together to an enhanced safety of the driver and other road participants’;
9. The Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA)-platform with lower centre of gravity (improved handling response and stability & greater design flexibility, better driving position) and more athletic design gives the car a better aerodynamic, thus reducing also fuel consumption;
10. Finally, with an average fuel consumption of 1.0 l/100 km (BIC) and CO2 emissions of only 22 g/km, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid reaps the latest technological, innovating and styling benefits of an modern car whilst increasing its environmental performance.
The rebirth of the pioneer
The introduction of the all-new fourth generation Prius marks a further advance in the history and achievements of Toyota’s hybrid power technology.
The new model builds on the strengths and achievements of its predecessors and is set to establish new benchmarks in fuel economy, emissions and efficiency. Each successive Prius has delivered improvements in these areas, but the new model is aiming to make the biggest leap yet in performance, with a target of improving CO2 emissions by 18 per cent*.
This achievement is only one aspect of a product that has evolved to acquire new capabilities and greater driver appeal. Powered by a new generation of Toyota’s full hybrid powertrain, the new Prius marks significant advances in highway fuel economy and provides a much more rewarding driving experience. Acceleration is smoother and more responsive, and, at higher speeds, is quieter and has a more linear feel that is better aligned to engine speed.
The new car’s dynamic capabilities are rooted in the use of the first Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. At a stroke, this endows the car with a lower centre of gravity for improved handling response and stability. It also gives the designers a freer hand to craft a car that has richer visual appeal, with lower lines overall and a more athletic profile. TNGA also helps define zen interior, with its excellent packaging, driving position and comfort. Load space is also improved thanks to the use of a smaller, more energy-dense hybrid battery and a new double wishbone rear suspension system – features which do not intrude in trunk capacity.
The Prius remains Toyota’s technological ambassador, a showcase for new, relevant technologies that raise levels of safety, convenience, performance and comfort.
The scope of the Toyota Safety Sense package is extended in the new Prius with addition of radar-managed Adaptive Cruise Control and a Pedestrian Detection function for the Pre-Crash Safety system.
The full hybrid powertrain has undergone extensive revisions to improve efficiency, reduce weight and sharpen performance. Other hybrid system components have been made more compact and have been repositioned for optimum packaging, further contributing to the car’s lower centre of gravity.
These changes and innovations confound the popular notion of what an eco-car should be like to drive and to look at. The new Prius demonstrates the genuine rewards that remain to be enjoyed from Toyota full hybrid technology, advantages that will steadily feed through to new generations of other Toyota hybrid models.
THE THREE PILLARS OF THE NEW PRIUS
The new Prius is founded on outstanding hybrid technology, delivering unprecedented efficiency and environmental performance. But beyond these credentials it embraces stronger emotional and performance qualities that give it wider and greater appeal to customers who appreciate eye-catching, original styling, high levels of sensory quality, practicality and a driving experience that is genuinely fun and rewarding.
The realisation of these qualities in the new Prius is based on three pillars: the Toyota New Global Architecture, design and styling, and a new generation full hybrid system.
Toyota’s First TNGA Platform
The new Prius is the first model to use a Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. This plays a defining role in the car’s essential fun-to-drive quality, giving new Prius a lower centre of gravity compared to the current model, which in turn allows for an improved driving position.
Styling and Design
New Prius is not simply “another green car,” its design and high quality throughout give it greater emotional appeal and a powerful, desirable presence, underpinned by the fundamental strengths of the new TNGA platform. As Toyota’s most advanced car, it is appropriate that it is an image leader and the intention has been to produce a design that makes an immediate impact.
The car’s new low-slung stance – made possible by the TNGA platform – suggests an excellent driving performance, supported by a distinctive new body silhouette that is both athletic and aerodynamically efficient. The result is a “human-tech” design with strong emotional quality, fully exploiting the opportunity presented by the car’s lower centre of gravity.
New Hybrid System
The New Prius heralds the next generation of Toyota’s signature hybrid powertrain. This new family of powertrains builds on the two pillars that have made Toyota hybrids popular with drivers across the globe: on the one hand their fuel efficiency, and on the other the relaxed and carefree drive that they provide.
Toyota has focused its efforts on making this next generation of hybrids even easier and more intuitive to drive. They have been set up so that they give a natural, immediate, but smooth response to any accelerator pedal input. Refined and confident, they deliver the right level of performance.
But of course, fuel economy has been improved as well. The new hybrid systems will come in a more compact package, that is lighter in weight and lower in cost. This new generation will reflect significant advances in battery, electric motor and gasoline engine technologies.
PRIUS: TOYOTA’S HIGH-TECH AMBASSADOR
The Prius has always provided a reference point for Toyota’s development of useful, intuitive high-tech features and that remains true for the fourth generation model, which benefits from a number of innovations that support safety, convenience and better, more sophisticated HMI (Human Machine Interface) performance.
New Prius Chief Engineer Koji Toyoshima explains: “Prius is the ambassador for Toyota technology, a brand vector pulling hybrid sales of our core models.”
Toyota Safety Sense with additional functions
The new Prius will make a significant advance in active and preventive safety measures with the adoption of Toyota Safety Sense. This package of safety features will be further extended in the new Prius with the addition of radar-governed Adaptive Cruise Control and a pedestrian recognition capability in the Pre-Collision Safety system.
In the current Prius range, only around two per cent of vehicles are sold with the Pre-Crash Safety system. In the new Prius this is one of the standard features of Toyota Safety Sense, together with Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam and Road Sign Assist.
Extra sensors for safety and convenience
The technologies Toyota has developed for successive generations of the Prius have always served a clear purpose. This continues in the new model with an increase in the number of sensors to provide the driver with more comprehensive information, improving safety and convenience. In effect, new Prius becomes a driver’s sixth sense, recognising and anticipating things they might not notice themselves.
* According to New European Cycle (NEDC)
Toyota New Global Architecture
Frankfurt Motor Show 2015 marks the European premiere of the very first TNGA built vehicle – The New Prius, and we are thrilled to tell you more about the concept:
Toyota New Global Architecture – TNGA will be the foundation for all our future powertrain and vehicle development. It marks a revolution in the way we design, engineer and build cars. To keep it simple : the processes will be streamlined by standardizing the size and position of key components within standard new vehicle platforms. This is the foundation of our mission to build ever-better cars.