Although Honda actually beat Toyota to the market with the first mass-market hybrid, the Prius is universally credited with starting the hybrid revolution of the 2000s.
Now, the Japanese company, also the largest automaker in the world aims to keep its crown as the top seller of hybrid-powered vehicles with the approaching launch of the fourth generation Prius. Due sometimes next year (rumors and reports diverge on the exact period), the model is going to also pack technological advancements taken directly from the world of endurance racing.
Toyota, which is at the top of the current season’s manufacturers’ championship, is using its high-performance TS040 Hybrid Le Mans racer as one of the testing beds for the tech that would make it on the next-generation Prius. Yoshiaki Kinoshita, president of Toyota Motorsport GmbH acknowledged that components used in the endurance racing circuit utilize parts from the future Prius, but sadly declined to specifically name them. He did point out that no mechanical items were involved, with the company focusing on microchips and microcontrollers, preproduction prototypes that could be easily tested for endurance for long periods of time and under extreme conditions. Power and fuel-efficiency is the main goal, and the Japanese carmaker has a dozen hybrid engineers working for the motorsports team – half stay for six months, then they go to the production car tech center in Toyota City and rotate with the other six.
Via Automotive News