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January 13, 2009

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Toyota Reveals All-New Prius at the 2009 NAIAS

DETROIT - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., unveiled the all-new 50-mile-per gallon rated third-generation Prius hybrid vehicle at the 2009 North American International Auto show. Celebrated as the benchmark for cars of the future, the Prius has delivered superior fuel economy and ultra-low emissions to more than one million owners worldwide for more than 10 years.

The midsize third-generation 2010 Prius will offer even better mileage ratings, enhanced performance, and innovative design features. It will be quieter, roomier, and equipped with advanced standard and available features such as a moonroof with solar panels, four driving modes, Intelligent Parking Assist (IPA) and steering wheel touch controls that display on the instrument panel.

In designing the new, third-generation Prius, Toyota engineers combined a careful refinement of existing systems with an aggressive measure of new technology necessary for the future of automobiles.

The third-generation Prius extends its record of continuous improvement in fuel economy. The first-generation Prius, which was rated 41 EPA combined mpg, was replaced by the current model, which is EPA rated at 46 mpg, combined city/highway. Using a combination of technologies, fuel efficiency was increased to an estimated 50 miles per gallon for the new Prius.

A larger and more powerful 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle, four-cylinder engine will power the new Prius. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the larger engine actually helps improve highway mileage. By making more torque, the new engine can run at lower average rpm on the highway. When operating at lower rpm, the new engine uses less fuel. Mileage is especially improved in cold-start conditions and at higher speeds.

Use of an electric water pump and a new exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system also contribute to the engine’s efficiency. The 1.8-liter Prius engine is the first Toyota power plant that requires no belts under the hood for better fuel economy and less potential maintenance.

A multi-information display panel that monitors fuel and energy consumption is standard. It provides feedback on the Prius’ efficiency using three different displays to help the driver acquire economical driving habits.

Unlike most other hybrid vehicles available, Prius has been a “full” hybrid since introduction. This allows it to run on engine alone, battery alone, or a combination of both. The system blends the best of parallel hybrid and series hybrid designs to achieve the ability to operate on the electric mode alone, and to charge the batteries while the car is running.

The patented Hybrid Synergy Drive system in the 2010 Prius is 90 percent newly-developed with significant improvements over previous models. The transaxle is lighter in weight and reduces torque losses by as much as 20 percent compared to the previous model. The inverter, which converts direct current to alternating current, has a new direct cooling system to reduce size and weight. Taken together, the inverter, motor and transaxle are smaller and 20 percent lighter. A newly developed electronically controlled regenerative braking system has been adopted, with control logic optimized to enhance regeneration. The new Prius will offer three alternative driving modes. EV-Drive Mode allows driving on battery power alone at low speeds for about a mile, if conditions permit. There is also a Power Mode, which increases sensitivity to throttle input for a sportier feel, and an Eco Mode, which helps the driver achieve their best mileage.

World’s Lowest Cd

The new Prius received more wind tunnel hours of testing than any other Toyota in history, resulting in the cleanest aerodynamic profile of any mass-produced vehicle in the world. By focusing on the shape of the body, underfloor, wheelhouse liner and shape of the wheels, the designers of the new Prius were able to reduce the coefficient of drag (Cd) value to 0.25, compared to 0.26 for the previous model. The airflow under the car was studied extensively. Engineers made changes to the shape of the fender liner, front surface of the underfloor, and added a fin at the rear floor cover to increase linear stability.

The development of the Prius has required applications for over 1,000 patents filed across the world, of which 292 are U.S. applications.

Pricing for the 2010 Prius will be announced shortly before it goes on sale late spring.

Photos: Toyota

(January 12, 2009)


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