According to the Japanese company, the next generation of the popular hybrid series will offer improved fuel economy due to smaller, lighter critical parts that cost less.
Toyota Motor Corp introduced most consumers to hybrid technologies with its Prius more than 15 years ago and managing officer Satoshi Ogiso said at a company hybrid vehicle event outside Detroit that 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.
“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 sold more than 5 million hybrid vehicles globally since the launch of the Prius. The fourth-generation Prius will have a roomier interior and introduce “advanced safety technologies” along with 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.
The company’s battery technologies will be combined 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.
While he declined to discuss future product plans, Ogiso said the Prius family does not necessarily need to expand further than it already has. Toyota added the larger Prius V in 2011 and the smaller Prius C last year, as well as a more expensive Prius Plug-In version.