Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) has sold over 3 million of its Prius model around the world as of end of June 2013 since launching the gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle in 1997. TMC rolled out the Prius in 1997, making it the first volume hybrid passenger car in the world. TMC rolled out the second generation in 2003, and the third generation in 2009.
From the first to third generation, TMC managed to cut the cost of hybrid system by two-thirds as well as raise fuel efficiency from 28 km/L to 38 km/L.
TMC also applied for 1,261 patents relating to the third-generation Prius, allowing it to make progress worthy of the Prius name, which comes from a Latin word that means “to go before.” Since developing the first-generation Prius, TMC has placed hybrid technology as a core technology necessary for developing various types of environment-friendly vehicles.
TMC also placed importance on the development and production of core components like motors, inverters, batteries and electronic control units (ECUs). TMC plans to continue conducting R&D as well as continue investing at its Japan sites for the development of hybrid and other technologies. TMC aims to achieve sustainable growth by deploying these technologies across the globe.
In the fiscal year ending March 2014, TMC expects to invest JPY890 billion (consolidated) on environmental technology development and on boosting new platform and major component development. TMC also plans to make consolidated capital expenditure investments of JPY910 billion, with JPY440 billion marked for Japan.
Designers considered aerodynamic performance as one of the priorities in designing the new Prius. They aimed to give the new Prius with an elegant silhouette that doesn’t sacrifice function. Toyota decided to retain the triangular form of the current model to make the new model easily recognizable as a Prius, but implemented a number of changes to the car’s overall profile as well as pillar position and angle. Its front pillar has been extended forward to further refine the Prius’ shaped form.
Although the new Toyota Prius remains as tall as the previous model, its roof profile has changed, thanks to the fact that the top of the roof has been moved to the rear by 3.9 inches. This design tweak help highlight the car’s wedge shape while improving both rear headroom and aerodynamics.
The front and rear corners now have a sporty and aerodynamic design. Its flanks are marked by strong character lines that rise from front to rear while its wider rear treads give the new Prius a more solid stance.
While the wheelbase of the new Toyota Prius is the same as the current model, its overall length has been extended by 0.6 inch, partly by shifting the front cowl forward.