Toyota shows new Prius hybrid with more power, range, style

TOKYO (AP) — The brand new Toyota gas-electric Prius hybrid not solely comes with extra energy, acceleration and driving vary. It’s additionally extra fashionable, scrapping the fairly stodgy angular physique for a sleekly futuristic look.

Simon Humphries, senior common supervisor of International Toyota design who unveiled the automobile in Tokyo on Wednesday, careworn that the corporate was nonetheless defying the skeptics who hold asking how for much longer the Japanese automaker will stick to hybrids in a quickly electrifying trade.

“Just because the Prius is an eco-car inside everybody’s attain. As a way to obtain carbon neutrality, everybody on the planet should take part. We’d like ecological options inside attain of the numerous. And it wants to begin in the present day, not tomorrow,” he informed reporters.

The fifth-generation Prius hybrid fashions will go on sale this winter first in Japan then the U.S. A plug-in model will hit the market subsequent yr, based on Toyota Motor Corp. Costs weren’t introduced.

The automaker swapped an older nickel-metal-hydride battery for a smaller, lighter lithium-ion battery. The consequence shall be nearly double the horsepower, faster acceleration and 50% longer vary.

The Prius, which first went on sale in 1997, switches forwards and backwards between a gasoline engine and electrical motor to ship a cleaner drive than the fashions with common combustion engines.

Electrical automobiles are zero-emissions however want recharging. Some customers are frightened about working out of juice on the roads. A hybrid all the time has the gasoline engine as backup.

Toyota has cumulatively bought greater than 20.3 million hybrid autos, together with Prius automobiles, world wide up to now. The Prius, which implies “pioneer” or “first” in Latin, has outlined Toyota as a model as a lot as its Lexus luxurious fashions.

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Nonetheless, Toyota has typically been criticized by environmentalists as dragging its toes on electrification, though some analysts say that’s a bit unfair provided that different automakers even have few electrical automobiles in its lineup, and lots of others have developed numerous hybrid fashions.

“The sale of extra hybrid autos, together with the Prius, drags us additional into the local weather disaster,” stated Daniel Learn of Greenpeace East Asia, primarily based in Tokyo.

Learn stated electrical autos and fuel-cell fashions have been higher options in opposition to local weather change than hybrids.

Humphries stated the brand new Prius was styled to be extra secure, with a decrease heart of gravity, with larger tires, curvaceous traces for its general design and a flowery inside.

He stated it was extra an expression of affection than a commodity. Making hybrid cabs or providing them to to different producers may be steps to unfold the expertise, he added, each of which Toyota determined in opposition to.

“We actually believed the following step for Prius was to develop into a ‘automobile with out compromises’ with the intention to enhance its enchantment to the client,” stated Humphries, standing earlier than a display splashed with the phrases: “We selected love.”

The Prius, with its revamped styling and effectivity, will compete higher not solely with different hybrid fashions but in addition with the obtainable era of absolutely electrical autos, stated Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst for S&P International Mobility.

The Prius fashions have all the time served as a type of bridge to a time when there are extra charging stations for EVs, stated Brinley, who believes the brand new Prius stacks up higher in opposition to hybrids and plug-ins from Hyundai, Kia, Ford and Jeep.

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By including 50% to the battery vary, which interprets to round 38 miles (61 kilometers), it could actually go far sufficient to cowl the typical U.S. driver’s commute and errands round city. The hybrid powertrain permits for highway journeys with out worrying a couple of charging community that’s not but full, Brinley stated.

“That actually will make for extra assured driving,” she stated.


Krisher reported from Detroit.


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Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter