Next-Gen Prius And Fuel Cell Car Coming In 2015 Says Toyota

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Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) announced the next-generation Prius hybrid and a new hydrogen fuel cell car for 2015 during the 2013 Toyota Hybrid World Tour. The next-gen Prius will feature an improved battery and better fuel economy, while the fuel cell car will be the only commercially available car of its type in America.

Satoshi Ogiso, senior general manager of Toyota Motor Corporation and Prius chief engineer, annnounced the new additions to Toyota’s hybrid line Wednesday. During his presentation, Ogiso emphasized the “next generation” and the future. Ogiso said he was first put on a project to design a fuel-efficient and affordable family car. Since the launch of the Prius in 1997, Toyota now features 23 hybrid vehicles across its brands, including Lexus, and the next-gen Prius promises to be an improvement, in every aspect, over the current one, said Ogiso.

According to Ogiso, the new Prius will be cheaper and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor thanks to a new powertrain system. “These new hybrid powertrains will deliver significantly improved fuel economy in a more compact package that is lighter in weight and lower in cost.”

The next-gen Prius will include a more advanced electric motor while improving its gas engine and feature an improved chassis. The chassis will have a lower center of gravity and be more rigid than its predecessor, improving the handling and aerodynamics. The Toyota New Global Architecture will improve the design of the Prius and will feature a roomier interior.

Ogiso stressed the importance of the battery’s “energy density,” the battery’s output in relation to its overall dimension. The electric motor will be smaller but feature better power output than the current Prius. “In its three generations, Prius MPG has improved on average … by about 10 percent, each generation. The challenge to continue to improve at this rate … to beat your own record … becomes very difficult, but makes it all the more motivating. I can tell you … that we are very motivated to beat our record,” said Ogiso.

For the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, Ogiso said there could be improvements in all-electric range as well as the possibility of cable-free charging.

The other big announcement from Ogiso was the new fuel cell vehicle, which will be available commercially in 2015. The FCVR fuel cell concept was first unveiled by Toyota at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show and the plan is to unveil a new mid-size four-sedan concept at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, scheduled for Nov. 22 to Dec. 1.

The commercially available fuel cell car will be unveiled at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, Jan. 7-10. The hydrogen fuel cell car would feature zero emissions as well as a driving range and refueling time comparable to standard vehicles, he said.

In addition to the new vehicles, Toyota plans on introducing 15 new or redesigned hybrid vehicles across its brands by the end of 2015. Bob Carter, senior vice president Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., said in a statement, “Toyota currently accounts for more than 60 percent of U.S. hybrid sales and 70 percent of the nearly 3 million hybrids on U.S. roads today.” Toyota has sold 5 million Toyota and Lexus hybrids globally and aims to match that number in the U.S. by the end of 2016.

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