Upcoming Toyota Prius C will be completely different from the concept version

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 29, 2011

There’s plenty of excitement as the Prius lineup grows. The Prius v is the first new addition and it will be followed by the Coupe, and the Prius c. The v, a larger, five-seat Prius, will have larger brakes and it will have its handling modified. It will arrive in the U.S. showrooms soon. Last May, the company unveiled the Prius Coupe concept, a two-door that’s expected to be launched in 2015.

The third new variant of the Prius lineup is the Prius c, a five-door hybrid hatch that will be built on the same platform as the Toyota Rush. It features all-wheel drive and it’s likely to rival Nissan's Juke.

Sources say that the Prius c concept that was seen in auto shows isn’t related to the upcoming production version Prius c. The production Prius has dimensions that are comparable to the Prius v.

It’s expected to have class-leading fuel efficiency figures plus offer a more engaging handling. The new Prius has a wheelbase of about 100 inches (3 inches longer than a current Yaris) and an overall length of around 156 inches (6 inches longer than a Yaris). It will use a revised 1.5 liter four-cylinder that’s fitted with Toyota's new THSII system.

Similar to the upcoming Yaris hybrid, its lithium-ion battery pack will be positioned under the rear seats and will use an entirely new front end. The c will also use a unique design that’s larger all around than the Yaris.

The c is initially set for a December 2011 debut but it now appears like it will be delayed to spring 2012 partly because of the impact of the March 11 Japan disaster. Sources say that the c will start selling in Japan for a price that’s lower than 1.8 million yen (around $22,000).

In the next few years, Toyota will launch a Prius SUV and convertible on top of the new Prius v and Prius Coupe as part of its Prius lineup. Toyota will be celebrating the brand's launch with the next-gen Prius and the flagship Coupe, most likely in 2014.

Since Toyota released the first generation of the Toyota Prius, the vehicle was already a very efficient unit with an EPA rating of 41 mpg combined. The second-generation Toyota Prius was even better, returning an EPA rating of 46 mpg combined. Now, the third-generation Prius is much better than its predecessors. Employing a number of technologies, the Japanese carmaker was able to raise the new Prius’ fuel economy to an estimated 50 mpg combined.

This is mostly thanks to a larger and more powerful 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine. Typically, a larger engine consumes more fuel on the highway. However, in the case of the new engine of the Toyota Prius, the opposite is true: a larger engine means better highway mileage.

Since the new engine develops more torque, it could operate at lower average rpm on the highway, which means it consumes less fuel. This also means that the engine offers better mileage during a cold start or when running higher speeds. Backing up the new engine is an electric water pump and a new exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system. Moreover, this engine is Toyota’s first powerplant that features no belts, resulting to better fuel economy and less potential maintenance.

The car’s fuel and energy consumption is shown on a multi-information display panel, as standard. This panel provides feedback on the vehicle’s efficiency through three various displays, thereby helping drivers realize economical driving habits.

Interestingly the Toyota Prius has been a "full" hybrid since it was launched, unlike most hybrid vehicles currently available on the market. This allows the Prius to run on three different modes: engine only, electric only, and both. In addition, the Prius’ hybrid system fuses the best of parallel hybrid and series hybrid designs to be able to run on electric-only mode and to be able to recharge the batteries while it is running.

For 2010, around 90 percent of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system that powers the Toyota Prius is newly developed. This system boasts of a number of improvements over its predecessors. For instance, the system’s inverter features a new direct cooling system to make it lighter and more compact. Moreover, the system now comes with a lighter transaxle that reduces torque losses by up to 20 percent compared to its predecessor.

When taken together, the system’s motor, inverter, and transaxle are now more compact and around 20-percent lighter. Another improvement made on the new Hybrid Synergy Drive system is the adoption of a newly developed electronically controlled regenerative braking system that features optimized control logic for improved regeneration.

Three alternative driving modes are available: EV-Drive Mode, Power Mode and Eco Mode. EV-Drive Mode allows the Prius to be driven on battery power alone at low speeds up to a mile. Power Mode hikes sensitivity to throttle input to provide a sportier feel. Eco Mode, meanwhile, allows the driver to achieve the best mileage.

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