Toyota has adjusted its plans for the expansion of its hybrid and hydrogen vehicle line-up and revealed details of its next-generation Prius.
Announced by Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) managing officer Satoshi Ogiso, the new plan aims to see 15 new or redesigned hybrid vehicles introduced globally between now and the end of 2015.
This is a reduction of the plan announced by TMC in April when, while marking the sale of its five-millionth hybrid vehicle, it said it was committed to introducing 18 new hybrid models between now and the end of 2015.
Still intended to include Toyota’s first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell vehicle – a new mid-size four-door sedan based on the Toyota FCV-R concept and due to be unveiled at the Tokyo motor show in November – the plan also includes the next-generation Toyota Prius.
Hinting at the role hydrogen fuel cell technology will play in upcoming vehicles, the Japanese manufacturer said the tech will employ core hybrid technology to become a “primary element of Toyota’s future mobility strategy”.
Said to launch a new era in hybrid technology, Toyota says the fourth-generation Prius will be “the first of a broad range of Toyota and Lexus vehicles to introduce a substantially improved family of hybrid powertrains”.
Promising “significantly improved” fuel economy and thermal efficiency in a lighter, more compact package that is also lower in cost, Ogiso said the new powertrains would benefit from advances in battery, electric motor and combustion engine technologies.
Ogiso also revealed it would gain smaller, more powerful electric motors. Noting that the current Prius motors have four times the power density of the first-generation model that debuted in Japan in 1997, Ogiso said, “the next will be even higher”.
To be based on a new platform, dubbed Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the next Prius will feature a lower centre of gravity, increased structural rigidity, improved aerodynamics and greatly improved driving dynamics. Ogiso further promised a more spacious interior and significant refinements in design, layout and ease of operation.
He also confirmed the next-generation Prius Plug-in (PHV) is being developed alongside the standard model, with the car maker in the process of developing new wireless/inductive charging systems that will provide cable-free charging. Additional pure-electric range is another aspect being pursued.
During the same event in Michigan, Toyota senior vice president of sales Bob Carter laid out a sales target for the US car industry, challenging it to increase its commitment to hybrids by selling five million models by end of 2016. The company eclipsed that mark on a global scale in back in April, with a combined effort from Toyota and Lexus.
Carter said as an industry, he would like to see the same thing accomplished in the US.
"It’s do-able. And I think we will do it,” Carter said.
"While hybrid as a percentage of the total market is just under four per cent, we believe that it can … and must grow.”
TMC reached the annual global sales mark of one million hybrids for the first time in November 2012.