one million Prius sold in 44 countries
For the 2009 North American
International Auto Show (public days 17-25 January),
each of the top two Japanese car manufacturers brought
the all-new generation of its midsize hybrid passenger
Toyota, the world largest carmaker
unveiled the 2010 Prius, and Honda, the number two
automaker in Japan premiered its 2010 Insight (more
about the 2010 Insight).
Prius: hybrids can also be attractive
If hybrid cars sales were rather
niche oriented first, the growing competition from
Ford Motor Company, General Motors and others will not
necessarily hurt the Prius. Quite the opposite: just
like Prius changed the face of the hybrid passenger
car from a social or political statement of early
adopters, to a rational family car in many homes, the
diversification of the hybrid car offers from many
brands will help make this technology more mainstream
optional voice-activated navigation
Of course, there is always the
energy price argument. But despite its recent price
drop, it is doubtful that last year's colossal surge
of oil prices will fade away from memories... at least
before a few years time. And that will probably be
enough to make hybrids as mainstream as conventional
Even if oil prices remain low for
quite a long time, who can guarantee that taxes on
energy will not climb gradually, to better protect the
environment, that's officially, and rather to
compensate for some of the hundreds of billions of
public money that are poured down to treat what can be
treated from the financial crisis consequences?
in the cabin and trunk (boot).
It really seems now that hybrid
cars are here for some time.
Targets - While Honda
aims for annual sales of 200,000 Insights globally,
the Prius global sales objective is about 400,000
units per year, by 2010... depending on market
conditions, as Toyota adds carefully, considering the
still unfolding world economic crisis.
Twelve years ago, Prius went on
sale in Japan. Three years later, it was launched in
America with a modest sales goal of 12,000 units,
growing to more than 100,000 units in 2005, before
ending last year with nearly 160,000 units sold.
Today, some 700,000 Prius cars are in operation in the
In fact, Prius has become the
world's best-selling hybrid car, with more than one
million sold in 44 countries. Today's plans are to
sell the third-generation Prius in eighty countries
worldwide, getting it closer to the top of Toyota's
best-selling vehicles around the world, along with
Camry and Corolla.
If the symbolic choice of the Latin
name Prius meant “to go before”, then, it did it
well, and globally.
the driver touches a switch on the
steering wheel, a duplicate image is
displayed on the instrument panel.
Sales of the 2010 Prius will start
in Japan and the U.S. in late spring (prices to be
announced nearer to market launch), followed shortly
by other countries (summer in Europe). Current sales
target for Prius' first full calendar year in the U.S.
will be around 180,000 units. Toyota's declared plans
are to have a hybrid powertrain option for every model
they sell in the 2020s.
To achieve its hungry ambitions,
the new Prius brings more interior room in a similarly
size body, a refined hybrid system, better performance
and more advanced standard and optional features,
including a moonroof with solar panels, four driving
modes, intelligent parking assist (IPA, previously
only available on Lexus vehicles), steering wheel
touch controls that display on the instrument panel, a
pre-collision system and lane-keep assist with a
lane-departure warning function.
gearknob, with shift-by-wire command
Safety Connect, Toyota's first
safety and security service that includes automatic
collision notification, stolen vehicle locator, and an
SOS call button will be available a few months
Body - Whereas
overall dimensions remain almost identical to the
second generation, interior space gained more than
five cubic feet (141.5 litres).
The new Prius has the same
wheelbase as the current generation. Overall length is
slightly increased by 0.6 inches (1.5 cm), in part by
moving the front cowl forward.
The overall height is the same, but
the roof profile is altered by moving the top of the
roof 3.9 inches (9.9 cm) to the rear, to enhance rear
headroom and improve aerodynamics.
By focusing on the shape of the
body, underfloor, wheelhouse liner and shape of the
wheels, the designers of the new Prius reduced the
drag coefficient (Cd) value to 0.25, compared to 0.26
for the previous model.
The cargo area of the new Prius was
expanded 0.4 inches (1 cm) in length and 2.2 inches
(5.58 cm) in width by using a new layout of the
battery cooling unit.
under the console, thanks to the
Handy storage space (opposite
photo) has been added under the shift lever by taking
advantage of the shift-by-wire system. Touch sensors
on the steering wheel switches help to enhance the
driver's concentration. When he / she touches the
audio or info switch located on the steering wheel, a
duplicate image is displayed on the instrument panel,
directly in front of his / her eyes. Called the Touch
Tracer, this is the first system to allow steering
wheel controls to read out on the instrument panel.
Hybrid Synergy Drive
- Toyota developed its full-hybrid system in-house. In
2004, it introduced the Hybrid Synergy Drive System on
the second-generation Prius, of which more than
670,000 have been sold in the U.S.
The powertrain of the
third-generation Prius is 90-percent newly-developed
with significant improvements over the previous
of the 3rd-generation: 90% newly
On the internal combustion engine
side, the new Prius adopts a larger and more powerful 1.8-litre
(1.5-litre previously) Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder
engine with 98 horsepower (76 previously). It is
the first Toyota power plant that requires no belts
under the hood, getting better fuel economy and less
potential maintenance. Toyota considers that in this
case, the larger engine helps improve highway mileage.
By making more torque, the new engine can run at lower
average rpm on the highway, for more relaxed driving,
better fuel efficiency, and improved uphill
performance. Mileage is especially improved in
cold-start conditions and at higher speeds.
Hybrid components like the
inverter, motor and generator are now smaller and
lighter. An exhaust heat recovery system, exhaust gas
recirculation and an electric water pump contribute to
a more efficient hybrid system with a net
horsepower rating of 134 (110 previously).
While the first-generation Prius
was rated at 41 EPA (U.S. Environment Protection
Agency) combined miles per U.S. gallon (49.2
mpg, imperial, 5.74 litres/ 100 km), the current
model, which is EPA rated at 46 mpg (55.2 mpg,
imperial, 5.11 litres/ 100 km), combined
city/highway. Now, fuel efficiency has been increased
to an estimated 50 miles per gallon (60 mpg,
imperial, 4.7 litres/ 100 km) for the new Prius.
In Toyota's internal testing,
zero-to-60 mph (0-96.5 km/h) acceleration has been
improved to 9.8 seconds, about a second faster than in
the 2nd-generation Prius.
A multi-information display panel
that monitors fuel and energy consumption is standard.
It provides feedback on the Prius’ efficiency using
three different displays to encourage economical
interface to control several functions.
Prius has been a “full” hybrid
since introduction. This allows it to run on the
gasoline engine alone, the battery alone, or a
combination of both, combining advantages of both
parallel hybrid and series hybrid designs to achieve
the ability to operate on the electric mode alone, and
to charge the batteries while the car is running.
The Hybrid Synergy Drive system in
the 2010 Prius improvements over previous models
- A lighter transaxle which reduces
torque losses by as much as 20 percent compared to the
- the inverter, which converts direct current to
alternating current, has a new direct cooling system
to reduce size and weight,
- taken together, the inverter, motor and transaxle
are smaller and 20 percent lighter,
- a newly developed electronically controlled
regenerative braking system has been adopted, with
control logic optimized to enhance regeneration.
to select EV-Drive Mode, Eco Mode or
The new Prius will offer three
alternative driving modes:
1 - EV-Drive Mode (see opposite
photo) allows driving on battery power alone at low
speeds for about a mile, if conditions permit,
2 - Power Mode increases sensitivity to throttle input
for a sportier feel,
3 - Eco Mode to help achieve their best mileage.
Suspension and brakes
- The suspension consists of front struts and a rear
intermediate beam design, as before, but handling
stability is advanced by improving the stabilizer
layout, higher caster angle and tuning the bushing
characteristics. Disc brakes are now used on all four
wheels (front disc/rear drum brakes in the 2nd
Weight was saved through use of
aluminium in the hood, rear hatch, front suspension
axle and brake calliper and super high-tensile steel
in the B-pillar and roof reinforcement.
sliding glass moonroof packaged with
solar panels, over the rear seating
area, to power the new ventilation
Equipment and options
- An optional sliding glass moonroof is packaged with
solar panels, located over the rear seating area, to
power the new ventilation system. This solar powered
ventilation system uses an electrically powered air
circulation fan that does not require engine assist.
The system prevents the interior air temperature from
rising while the vehicle is parked, making the
cool-down time shorter when the driver returns to the
vehicle, thus reducing the use of air conditioning.
Toyota says that the remote
air-conditioning system of the new Prius is the first
system in the world to function on battery-power
alone. It can be remotely operated to adjust the
interior temperature for comfort before getting in the
Available LED (light emitting
diode) lamps are used for low beams and also in the
tail and stop lamps to reduce power consumption. Air
conditioning, a major energy drain, has been
re-engineered to increase efficiency and cool-down
performance. In addition, an exhaust heat
recirculation system reduces heat waste by warming
engine coolant during cold startup, for improved
performance. It also heats up the passenger cabin more
LED lamps for low beams and in the tail
and stop lamps.
Toyota will use plant-derived,
carbon-neutral plastics in the 2010 Prius. The
newly-developed plastics, known as “ecological
plastic,” will be used in the seat cushion foam, cowl
side trim, inner and outer scuff plates, and deck trim
cover. Ecological plastic emits less CO2
during the product lifecycle (from manufacturing to
disposal) than plastic made solely from petroleum, while
reducing in the same time petroleum use.
Safety equipment -
Standard passive safety equipment includes advanced
driver and front passenger airbags, front and rear side
curtain airbags, driver and passenger seat-mounted side
airbags and driver’s knee airbag.
Active headrests are used in the
front seats to reduce whiplash risks in a collision.
Anti-lock brake system (ABS), electronic brake
distribution (EBD), brake assist (BA), electronic
traction control (TRAC) and vehicle stability control
(VSC) are included with Toyota’s standard Star Safety
The optional Dynamic Radar Cruise
Control system, which uses advanced millimetre wave
radar, enables Lane Keep Assist, which helps the driver
stay within the lane, and the Pre-Collision System,
which retracts seatbelts and applies the brakes in
certain conditions when a crash is unavoidable.
The new Intelligent Parking Assist
features simplified settings to help guide the car into
parking spaces. A backup monitor, which provides a view
of rear obstacles when reverse is engaged, is optionally
available with the also optional voice-activated