Toyota Planning More Efficient Hybrid for 2012…Could Bring End to the Prius Reign
When it comes to hybrid vehicles, few names are more recognizable than the Toyota Prius. Since originally being introduced to the Japanese market back in 1997, the Prius has been at the top of the global hybrid sales chart. However, Toyota is promising a new, more fuel efficient vehicle in the near future that may be able to steal the crown from the reigning hybrid king.
The new vehicle will be borrowing the Vitz/Yaris platform, meaning it will fall into the subcompact category. A three door hatchback is what most are expecting, possibly somethng similar to the IQ Concept rleased last year. The same Nickel-metal hydride batteries found in the Prius have also been fitted onto the drivetrain of the new concept.
When the batteries are not being used to propel the new super-fuel-efficient vehicle, a newly designed 1.5 liter internal combustion engine will engage the drive-wheels. This is a loss of about 300cc compared to the engine found in the Prius, which will not only cut weight, but also reduce overall fuel consumption.
Current estimates put the fuel consumption of the upcoming hybrid right at 43kpl, which is just over 100mpg. While this number is still an estimate, it still represents a huge jump from most of the competition. For comparison's sake, the current generation of Prius is rated at 38kpl, or just shy of 90mpg. While the extra 10mpg may seem trivial, over the lifetime of the car it could save hundreds or even thousands depending on the driver and the environment it is driven in.
Toyota is saying the new hybrid could be ready as early as December of 2011, meaning it would hit the showrooms as a 2012 model. Experts are putting the price at somewhere around $17,000, which isn't too bad for a vehicle expected to break into triple digits for fuel economy. More information should be available as testing and development move forward. Whether the concept will be strictly for the Japanese market, or be exported elsewhere has not been released.Asahi