“Our components already have parts from the next-generation Prius,” Kinoshita revealed.
The Toyota Motorsport boss said the components – microchips and microcontrollers, not mechanical parts – were pre-production prototypes being endurance tested in the Le Mans racer under extreme conditions over extended periods.
The components are intended to reduce the vehicle’s fuel consumption.
The TS040 is 25 per cent more fuel efficient than last year’s Le Mans contender, the TS030, and employs a new all-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain.
In July we reported that Toyota director in charge of drivetrains Koei Saga said there was a possibility that the next Prius could also be offered with all-wheel drive.
Roughly half a dozen hybrid engineers rotate between the Le Mans circuit and the Japanese car maker’s production car technical centre in Toyota City.
Production of the fourth-generation Toyota Prius is scheduled to begin in December 2015. Australian sales will likely start around the middle of 2016. A new-generation Prius plug-in hybrid is expected to launch globally in the final quarter of 2016.
Toyota is targeting efficiency improvements of at least 10 per cent with the new Prius – a goal that should see combined cycle fuel consumption fall to 3.5 litres per 100 kilometres or below.
Toyota deputy chief officer of product planning and chassis engineering manager and Prius ‘godfather’ Satoshi Ogiso told CarAdvice last year the fourth-gen model would be the most fun-to-drive Prius ever, as well as the most economical.