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Toyota reveals third-generation Prius

Posted: 14 Jan 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Prius third-generation? efficient car? component technology car?

Toyota has revealed its third-generation Prius at the North American International Auto Show. The word is lighter, more efficient components and evolution rather than revolution in the car's technology.

As for the big question, rather than go to Li-ion technology as had been rumored some time back, the company has stuck with what it calls the "proven battery technology" of the previous Prius (a NiMH battery pack). A Toyota spokesman said that the reason to stick with NiMH was "cost and reliability," but the limited production number of plug-in hybrids coming late this year will have Li-ion.

The new Prius goes on sale in Q2 09, and looks basically like the current model with some harder styling lines. Toyota designers have reshaped the car subtly, raising the rear roofline 4 inches and adding underbody panelswith the net result of a drag coefficient (CD) of 0.25, which it says is the lowest of any production car. There is also a concurrent increase of 5 cubic ft in internal room.

The shape along with "lighter engine and hybrid components" results in a "combined mpg" of 50mpg, for the "highest mileage car sold in the U.S," according to the company. The first Priuses (or is it Prii?) in the U.S. had a combined mileage of 41mpg, and the current version comes in at 46mpg. The power train has "90 percent new components."

On the new Prius, drivers can select from three operating modes, "EV, Economy and Power." Other features (some optional) including LED headlights; a solar sun roof to drive a vent system to help cool the car when parked; and a more efficient air conditioner powered solely by electricity.

- Rick DeMeis
Automotive DesignLine

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