Toyota says 2015 Prius hybrid will be lighter, more economical

Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:11pm EDT
 
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote), which introduced most consumers to hybrid technologies with its Prius more than 15 years ago, said on Wednesday that the next generation of that popular series will offer improved fuel economy due to smaller, lighter critical parts that cost less.

The next Prius, which is expected in 2015, will include improved batteries and smaller, more powerful electric motors, and will be built on the company's new global vehicle architecture, Toyota managing officer Satoshi Ogiso said at a company hybrid vehicle event outside Detroit.

The next Prius also will have a roomier interior and introduce "advanced safety technologies" that he didn't specify.

"When the next-generation Prius arrives, it will begin a new era for a broad range of Toyota and Lexus vehicle by marking the arrival of a substantially improved family of hybrid power trains," Ogiso, who worked on the first-generation Prius before its 1997 launch, told reporters.

Toyota has earned the mantle as the world's greenest automaker, thanks to the success of its hybrid vehicles like the Prius. The second generation of the Prius was introduced in 2003 and the next redesign came out six years later. Toyota has sold more than 5 million hybrid vehicles globally since the launch of the Prius.

The fourth-generation Prius will include batteries with higher energy density, or the relationship between the battery's output and its dimensions, Ogiso said. He said Toyota has stepped up research, development and production capacity on both nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries.

Ogiso also said Toyota has boosted development on new battery technologies such as solid state and lithium air, and studies other chemistries beyond lithium, including magnesium.

The next Prius will combine the company's battery technologies with new electric motors that are smaller in size and feature improved power density, he said. For example, the current Prius motor provides four times the power density of the first generation and the next generation's power density will be even higher.   Continued...

 
The logo of Toyota Motor Corp's Prius hybrid car is seen on its body at the company's showroom in Tokyo April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato