April 17, 2003

New Toyota Prius roomier, quicker and more fuel-efficient

New York, New York – The second-generation Toyota Prius electric-gas hybrid car made its world premiere Wednesday at the New York Auto Show. The first Prius, the world’s first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid vehicle, was introduced in Japan in 1997. The 2004 Prius is expected to go on sale this Fall.

2004 Toyota Prius

2004 Toyota Prius

2004 Toyota Prius

2004 Toyota Prius
Click image to enlarge

The new Prius offers more passenger and cargo room, and an improved hybrid powertrain that offers better acceleration, fuel economy and emissions performance.

The 2004 Prius is equipped with a new high-voltage/high-power Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain. Like the original Toyota Hybrid System (THS) on the current Prius, Hybrid Synergy Drive is defined as a “full hybrid system.” Unlike competitive systems currently on the market, the full hybrid system is capable of operating in either gas or electric modes. There is a third mode in which both the gas engine and electric motor work together.

The major difference between the new Hybrid Synergy Drive concept, and the current THS system is the duration of electric-mode driving and the peak power delivered electrically. The Hybrid Synergy Drive has a 50 percent more powerful 50-kilowatt drive-motor operating at up to 500 volts. This increased voltage and power is enabled by a newly adopted high-voltage power converter. Additionally, the generator in the new Prius has a higher peak operating speed that increases electric-mode operation in city and highway operation. With 50 percent more electric power available and improved low-end torque from the drive motor, a significant boost in acceleration is realized.

Hybrid Synergy Drive is expected to increase fuel efficiency in the new Prius by a further 15 percent over the current Prius EnerGuide-winning rate of 4.5L/100km in the city and 4.7L/100km highway. This will enable Prius to have the best fuel efficiency rating of any midsize vehicle sold in North America, delivering twice the combined distance rating of its closest competitor (more than any current compact sedan).

The Hybrid Synergy Drive will significantly improve 0 to 60 mph acceleration performance from the mid-12 second range to the mid-10 second range. This acceleration level is comparable to the Toyota Camry LE four-cylinder.

Finally, Hybrid Synergy Drive will enable the 2004 Prius to be nearly 30 percent lower in emissions than the current 2003 Prius which is rated “Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle,” or SULEV and produces nearly 90 percent fewer tailpipe pollutants than a conventional internal combustion engine.

The new Prius is designed to meet California’s new “Partial Zero Emission Vehicle,” or PZEV tailpipe emissions standards, which are more stringent than the current SULEV standards, and will be certified as “Level II-Ultra Low Emission Vehicle,” or ULEV-II in Canada.

With its triangular mono-form shape, the new Prius is a dramatic visual departure from the original Prius, and contributes greatly to one of the most aerodynamic production vehicles on the planet with a drag coefficient of 0.26.

The 2004 model rides on an entirely new platform. Although its wheelbase is nearly 152.4 mm longer than the current Prius it retains a relatively short overall length, and is only slightly larger than the current model. Its interior is significantly roomier, and with its new hatchback design, the Prius offers more cargo capacity.

A new by-wire shift control allows Prius to replace the traditional gearshift lever mounted on the floor or the steering column with tap-of-the-finger shifting of a small joystick mounted on the dash.

A “Smart Entry” and “Smart Start” feature allows keyless entry and keyless startup. As the driver reaches for the door handle, an on-board sensor will recognize the signal from a key in his pocket and automatically unlock the doors. Since the driver has already been security-cleared to enter the vehicle, he can leave the fob in his pocket, push a start button located on the dash, and drive away.

“When the 2004 Prius arrives in dealerships this fall it will exceed all expectations, marking the arrival of hybrid technology into the mainstream consumer mindset,” said Ken Tomikawa, President, Toyota Canada Inc. “The debut of the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system will also represent a major breakthrough in global-friendly powertrain technology.”

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