Next-generation Toyota Prius touted to be lighter and more fuel efficient (55 mpg)

Article by Anita Panait, on August 29, 2013

The chief engineer of Toyota’s Prius program declared that the next generation will have significantly better fuel economy, will be lighter and less costly. Satoshi Ogiso, managing officer of Toyota Motor Corp., remarked that the performance of the next generation of Prius powertrains “will reflect significant advances” in battery, electric motor and gas engine technologies.

He remarked that although the hybrid components will be shrunk in the next Prius, the vehicle’s size and interior packaging will not get smaller. Ogiso said that Toyota is aiming at improving the Prius’ fuel economy from the current 50 mpg to near 55 mpg. Ogiso declined to disclosed launch timing for the Prius, but said cycles for the vehicle have traditionally have been six years long, which means the next generation could be launch in the United States in spring 2015.

According to Ogiso, next-generation hybrid batteries will have higher energy density. The carmaker is currently developing current lithium-ion and nickel-metal-hydride battery technologies, as well as future batteries based on solid-state, lithium-air and magnesium chemistries.

The next Prius will also have smaller yet more powerful electric motors and more efficient gasoline engines.

According to Ogiso, the Prius engine will will have thermal efficiency above 40 percent, making it the most efficient in the world. He disclosed that Toyota will also commence testing next year a wireless battery charging system for a future plug-in Prius.

He also disclosed that the Prius will be the lead vehicle for Toyota's New Global Architecture platform, with a lower center of gravity and increased structural rigidity. Toyota is set to unveil its fuel cell vehicle, featuring advances in hydrogen fuel-cell technology, at the Tokyo Motor Show in November.

Toyota disclosed that the number of testing hours for the Prius in the wind tunnel is the most for any other model from the brand. Because this, the Prius has the cleanest aerodynamic profile versus many of the world’s mass-produced models. The designers at Toyota looked into the airflow under the vehicle while also paying close attention to the wheelhouse liner and the underfloor.

The same designer even focused on how the wheels are shaped and even the form of the body. Thus, when compared to the previous model and its coefficient of drag (Cd) at 0.26, Toyota managed to lower it for the Prius to 0.25. Indeed, when the new Prius was designed, the most significant factor was aerodynamic performance. Overall the objective was to have a vehicle that would display a beautiful silhouette but not at the expense of function.

As such, the designers made sure to keep the current version’s dynamic triangle form, a feature that makes it immediately recognizable as a Prius. However, the designers did make changes to the angle, pillar position, and even the overall profile.

By extending the front pillar even more forward, it sharpens performance-focusing form. While the overall height was not changed, the roof profile though has been modified by shifting the top of the vehicle’s roof closer to the rear by 3.9 inches. This change is therefore able to highlight the wedge shape while at the same time improve the headroom in the rear and even enhance the aerodynamics.

Looking at the front and the rear corners of the Prius, they have been designed to be aerodynamic, athletic, and sharp. The side character lines are powerful lines beginning from the front and then to the rear, resulting in the line being able to define that glazed geometric shape.

When viewed from the back, the wider rear tread offers a firmly rooted and solid stance. In terms of length, the new version has been lengthened by 0.6 inch mainly due to forward movement of the front cowl. The wheelbase of the new Prius measures the same as that of the present generation.

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