Toyota is expanding its Prius lineup with the seven-seater Prius Plus that will arrive at UK showrooms in early 2012. According to a report from Auto Express, Toyota will launch three all-new models within the next three years as it converts the Prius into a standalone brand.
Toyota plans to sell the hybrids through specific dealers starting in 2014. This is actually around the time that the replacement for the current Prius saloon is set to arrive.
It becomes apparent that the cars will join it in these new franchises. The first – the Prius C -- was previewed by the stunning Prius C Concept at the Detroit Motor Show last January.
Among the features that were dropped include the blade-like headlamps and distinct LED running lights that were observed on the car on the stands.
Toyota junked the bold indent that runs down the flanks as the production C is given a design that’s more conservative. However, the concept remains somewhat similar.
The compact five-door hatch will serve as a new entry point to the Prius brand and will compete with smaller hybrids such as Honda’s Insight and CR-Z. The C, the most efficient Prius, features compact dimensions and low kerbweight.
It is also powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. Toyota claims that the C will offer a fuel economy rating in excess of 80mpg. Another variant that has got enthusiasts excited is a two-door performance hybrid that’s slated to arrive in 2014.
The latest incarnation of the Toyota Prius comes with a redesigned exterior, better sensorial quality on the inside, and improved instrumentation. It also offers a number of advanced navigation and multimedia systems that are affordable like the Toyota Touch Pro, Toyota Touch, and Toyota Touch & Go Plus. There are a number of technological features like the Intelligent Parking Assist. With this, the Prius is able to immediately move to the parking lot that has been selected.
By making use of a rear view camera combined with ultrasonic sensors, the system is able to determine how to steer the vehicle and move it in reverse in order to go to the parking space. All that needs to be done by the driver is to control the speed. Another technological element is the Pre-Crash Safety system, and when joined with the Adaptive Cruise Control, it can determine the possibility of a collision.
Helping it are the sensors that have been placed just beneath the grille in the front. Once the system determines that there is a probability of collision, it activates a sequence of intelligent safety features. It activates the pre-tension seatbelts and triggers the audible alarm of the Brake Assist. If the possibility of a collision is high, the automatic braking is then activated. With these systems, the potential of an impact is reduced while damage is lowered as well should a collision happen.
Then there is the Touch Tracer that is placed on the steering wheel. This is a display switch that enable drivers to manage the different systems, like the ECO Drive Monitor, air-conditioning, and audio system, to name a few, without the need to remove their hand from the steering wheel or even look down. While the technological features are indeed excellent, many customers continue to prefer the full hybrid technology. Though Toyota has introduced this technology to new segments in the market through the Yaris Hybrid and the Auris Hybrid, it is the Prius that continues to be the most well-known vehicle from the company with the full hybrid powertrain design.
In fact when it comes to technological advances, the Prius still leads the pack. This is because every time a new generation of the Prius is released, it comes with a pioneering hi-tech feature. Take the third-generation Prius for example. When it was unveiled back in 2009, it came with the Head-up Display where helpful information is displayed on the windscreen’s base. Examples of data are the speed of the car and the Eco Drive Monitor.
It can even show the Active Cruise Control and Pre-Crash Safety systems, though both are offered as options. This generation was also the first to have the air conditioning, which is remote-controlled, and which allows it to work in conjunction with a solar ventilation system.
While the Prius is parked, the solar ventilation system makes sure that the temperature is prevented from going up. The air conditioning can then be activated remotely and through the hybrid battery, with its large capacity, make sure that the interior is cooled for a maximum of three minutes prior to entering the Prius. It comes as no surprise that just 2 years after the third-generation Prius was released, almost 100,000 units have already been sold in Europe alone.
Sales are expected to increase as the appeal is still there especially for those who want to own a Toyota vehicle for the first time. In fact, during the first 6 months of 2011, half of Prius units sold in Europe went to those who wanted to buy a Toyota after owning a vehicle from its rivals.
The latest generation of the Prius, its fourth one, will be unveiled during the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The front comes with a more dynamic design. The Under Priority front bumper has been redesigned to underscore the larger lower grille. This is in line with the new face of the company’s next generation of vehicles. The headlamp comes with a clear lens design and the LED lamp configuration has been changed as well. Integrated to the bumper are the daytime running lights.