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 relatively stodgy angular physique for a sleekly futuristic look.
Simon Humphries, senior normal supervisor of International Toyota design who unveiled the automotive in Tokyo on Wednesday, pressured that the corporate was nonetheless defying the skeptics who maintain asking how for much longer the Japanese automaker will persist with hybrids in a quickly electrifying trade.
“Just because the Prius is an eco-car inside everybody’s attain. So as to obtain carbon neutrality, everybody on this planet should take part. We want ecological options inside attain of the various. And it wants to start out right now, not tomorrow,” he advised 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 12 months, in response to 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 might be virtually double the horsepower, faster acceleration and 50% longer vary.
The Prius, which first went on sale in 1997, switches backwards and forwards between a gasoline engine and electrical motor to ship a cleaner drive than the fashions with common combustion engines.
Electrical vehicles 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 automobiles, together with Prius vehicles, world wide to this point. The Prius, which implies “pioneer” or “first” in Latin, has outlined Toyota as a model as a lot as its Lexus luxurious fashions.
Nonetheless, Toyota has generally been criticized by environmentalists as dragging its ft on electrification, though some analysts say that’s a bit unfair provided that different automakers even have few electrical vehicles in its lineup, and lots of others have developed varied hybrid fashions.
“The sale of extra hybrid automobiles, together with the Prius, drags us additional into the local weather disaster,” stated Daniel Learn of Greenpeace East Asia, based mostly in Tokyo.
Learn stated electrical automobiles and fuel-cell fashions had been higher options in opposition to local weather change than hybrids.
Humphries stated the brand new Prius was styled to be extra steady, with a decrease middle of gravity, with greater tires, curvaceous strains 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 is also 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 turn into a ‘automotive with out compromises’ to be able to improve its enchantment to the shopper,” 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 additionally with the accessible technology of totally electrical automobiles, 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.
By including 50% to the battery vary, which interprets to round 38 miles (61 kilometers), it may go far sufficient to cowl the common U.S. driver’s commute and errands round city. The hybrid powertrain permits for street 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.
Krisher is on Twitter https://twitter.com/tkrisher
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama