Toyota believes that too many Prius models will affect the brand

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 13, 2011

As the hybrid lineup grows, Toyota Motor Corp. faces a marketing dilemma on how to manage the Prius brand. According to executives, its subline of Prius-badged vehicles would reach the limit when the plug-in version and the Prius C subcompact are launched next spring to join the regular Prius and the Prius V wagon.

Satoshi Ogiso, Prius’ chief engineer, said that there won’t be another Prius sibling within two years but that the team is considering bringing in future electric cars or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles under the Prius umbrella.

Ogiso is worried that if there’s too much expansion, the strength of the Prius brand will be affected. Ogiso estimates that by 2020, the Prius lineup will account for half of Toyota's hybrid sales worldwide. This is a drop from the current figure of around 70%.

So far, these Priuses are small, dedicated hybrids that are distinguished by a streamlined nose and curved roofline. It’s possible that a new Prius model will take away sales from another model but Ogiso said that he isn’t concerned since there will also be quick growth in the overall hybrid market.

For Toyota, the key elements in creating the new Prius were mainly on aerodynamic performance. While the brand wanted a stunning silhouette, it was important not to take function for granted. In terms of design, the dynamic triangle form that is observed in the current model was retained for the new Prius, allowing it to be immediately recognizable as such.

However the designers also made it a point to make certain changes to the overall angle, profile, and position of the pillar. The front pillar for example has been extended forward and thus enhances how its form highlights performance. It comes as no surprise that the new Prius has what can be considered as the world’s cleanest aerodynamic profile for a vehicle that is mass produced.

The reason is that this model experienced more hours of testing in Toyota’s wind tunnel compared to any other model that the brand has released. As such, while the prior model has a coefficient of drag value at 0.26, the new model has Cd at 0.25. The lower Cd was due to a number of factors that involved changes on how the body and wheels were shaped, its wheelhouse liner, and the underfloor.

The brand also made sure to take a closer look on how the air flowed under the model. With this in mind, engineers at Toyota altered how the fender line was shaped as well as changed the underfloor’s front surface. By putting in a fin on the cover of its rear floor, linear stability of the new Prius was increased. All of these resulted in the new Prius having corners at the front and the back being aerodynamic, sporty, and sharp.

Its glossy geometric shape meanwhile is defined by the character lines in the side which starts from the front and rises to its rear. Looking at the rear, with the rear treads now made wider, it gives it that firmly rooted and solid stance. In terms of dimension, the overall length of the new Prius is longer by 0.6 inches mainly due to the front cowl being positioned more forward. Wheelbase though is still the same and so is the overall height.

The profile of the roof though was changed a bit as the top of its roof was moved closer to the rear by 3.9 inches. This helps it highlight the better aerodynamics and wedge shape. It also ensured that headroom in the rear is improved.

Topics: toyota, toyota prius

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