It is rare when a extended family has a reunion, bringing members of a clan from around the world to one spot to talk of common traits and share in family lore. Toyota did this recently though, bringing together for the first time all of its environmentally focused vehicles, mostly consisting of hybrids, to one place. And at this event a surprise birth announcement was made as well.
As for the surprise, Toyota Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso outlined the launch of “a new era in hybrid technology” with the arrival of the next-generation Prius. We all knew a new generation of the world’s most popular hybrid was coming, of course, but details on what it would be like weren’t as clear. Until now, that is, as according to Ogiso,
- The next Prius will feature improved batteries with higher energy density – the relationship between the battery’s output and dimensions. Toyota, already a leader in advanced drive battery technology, has stepped up its research, development and production capacity of both nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion and will use these technologies where appropriate in its expanding focus on electrification of the automobile. Toyota has also ramped up development on new battery technologies like solid state and lithium air, as well as devoting resources focused on chemistries beyond lithium, such as magnesium and other low-valence materials.
- The next Prius will also feature electric motors that will be smaller in size. He noted that the current Prius motors have four times the power density of the first model and that “the next will be even higher.”
- In addition, the thermal efficiency of the gasoline engine in the current Prius is 38.5 percent. The next-generation will boost that level to more than 40 percent – a world best.
- The next Prius will also utilize Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), featuring a lower center of gravity and increased structural rigidity, which will contribute to greatly improved driving dynamics.
- Improved aerodynamics will contribute to an all-new exterior design. Ogiso promised a roomier interior and significant refinements in design, layout and ease of operation.
In another announcements on how the Japanese automaker is advancing in green vehicle development, it was shared work is progressing on Toyota’s first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, a new mid-size four-door sedan whose concept will be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in November. It will make use of hybrid technology.
It was also shared that the next generation Prius Plug-In hybrid will sport “a new wireless/inductive charging system that produces resonance between an on-floor coil and an onboard coil to transmit power to the battery, providing charging without the fuss of a cable.” The end result of this? A more convenient charging operation and additional all-electric range.
Set as the backdrop against all of these announcements was the company’s entire Toyota and Lexus global hybrid line up. This grouping of vehicles has spread around the world more than 5 million vehicles responsible for an estimated 34 million ton reduction in C02 — the equivalent of taking 4.8 million vehicles off the road for an entire year. It also is responsible for “3 billion gallons of gasoline saved, which is more than enough gas for the entire population of the United States to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a Prius.”
Watch for a feature piece later this week with more details specific to Toyota’s current green vehicle fleet from around the world.