A More Sporting Hybrid – Prius To Lose Weight, Gain All-Wheel Drive
Updated February 7, 2017
Toyota Prius, synonymous with ‘hybrid’ is now fifteen years old. Time to grow up, Prius! In the beginning, this mildly-priced hybrid delivered excellent fuel economy while still carrying up to five passengers. Later, in the second generation, Prius gained some new technologies to increase fuel economy, such as an industry-first electric air conditioning compressor and a smaller, lighter nickel-metal hydride [NiMH] rechargeable battery pack.
The third generation Prius, introduced in 2010, was rated over 50 mpg, the most efficient passenger vehicle on the road, aided by more aerodynamic styling, the first electric water pump, and smaller, yet more powerful electric motor. A minor facelift in 2011 might be called a fourth generation.
Recently, Toyota Prius has gained a few siblings, including the somewhat larger Prius V mid-size station wagon, the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, with increased electric-only range up to 11 miles, and the more compact Prius c. “Well-Enough” isn’t a term that Toyota is familiar with, and so of course we wouldn’t expect Toyota R&D to leave it alone.
Currently in development and built on the smaller Prius c platform, the next-generation Prius promises to be a little bit smaller. The smaller size will shave about 150 pounds overall, increasing fuel economy even further, maybe 70 mpg, setting the standard for pure hybrid electric vehicles to come.
The power-train will keep using the current system, which includes a 98-hp four-cylinder engine, 100 kW electric motor, NiMH battery pack, and Hybrid Synergy Drive to balance output and generation depending on demand. Another feature in the works for the new Prius is the addition of a rear electric motor, sized down from the e-AWD system used in the Lexus RX 400h. The rear motor in the new Prius will work up to 37 mph for maximum traction in slippery conditions, such as snow or rain.
Of course, there isn’t much else that we can glean from the rumors and a few choice statements from Toyota engineers, but Auto Express was told “the next Prius will redefine the hybrid as we know it,” and expects it to launch in 2015.