Toyota Estima Hybrid gets a full redesign

In 2000, the Toyota Estima Hybrid became the first minivan to ever sport the advanced new powertrain technology. Yesterday, Toyota released the fully redesigned version of this family-hauling green machine. Like its predecessor, the new Estima is propelled by the company's Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) with E-Four. That's a fancy way of saying it has Toyota's proven hybrid system paired with electronic four-wheel-drive. It has the capability to run in all-electric mode under the proper conditions.

Optimized for minivan use, the Estima's powertrain bestows performance as good or better than similar gasoline-only vehicles, while providing class-leading fuel economy at the same time. Handling is improved through the addition of Toyota's electronic VDIM system -- a feature commonly found on the automaker's premium Lexus vehicles that also sees duty on the Highlander Hybrid here in the US.

The environmentally-conscious approach extends beyond the green-tech powertrain. Toyota uses recyclable and otherwise environmentally-sensitive materials whenever possible in the actual construction of the vehicle, and employs a methodology called Eco-VAS (Eco-Vehicle Assessment System) during development which is intended to help ensure that CO2; emissions are reduced through every stage of the car's lifespan.

Toyota uses the van's styling to emphasise its green aspirations and high-tech theme. The grille and headlamp design is very modern-looking, and all the lenses have a blue tint which is supposed to evoke cleanliness. It all works. The color palatte follows suit, and Toyota has introduced an optional metallic purple exterior color (pictured above) that lends a light, airy quality to the whole affair. While subtle, these styling decisions do a good job of communicating the "clean" message Toyota is shooting for. Naturally, Hybrid badging is applied in all the right places, and for those who want to emphatically communicate that they're driving a hybrid, a selection of "Hybrid Synergy Drive" decals are available from the official accessory catalog. Even TRD gets in on the act, offering a small number of performance mods for the Estima.

While it's a Japan-only model, the Estima Hybrid is very interesting in that it offers a peek at a vehicle type for which there may well be a market here in the US. While compact hybrids like the Prius fill a clearly-defined niche, they do not offer the utility that many people require. The Estima Hybrid, on the other hand, does. Hybrid performance and efficiency  combined with capacity for seven or eight passengers is something that many families looking for a people hauler would likely find attractive.

Toyota's full press release follows after the jump.

[Source: Toyota] June 12, 2006

Toyota Launches Completely Redesigned Estima Hybrid

Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced today the nationwide sales launch in Japan of the completely redesigned Estima Hybrid minivan through "Toyota" ("Osaka Toyopet" in the Osaka area) and "Toyota Corolla" dealers.

The Estima Hybrid was initially launched in 2001 as the world's first hybrid minivan, demonstrating new potential for hybrid vehicles.  It achieved revolutionary fuel efficiency and lean exhaust emissions, and-through the world's first use of the E-Four (electric four-wheel-drive) system on a mass-production vehicle and an ECB (Electronically Controlled Brake) system-it provided exceptional maneuvering stability.

The new Estima Hybrid features the THS II¹, optimized for use on a minivan.  The THS II was designed to achieve even better environmental and driving performance based on the concept of Hybrid Synergy Drive, which seeks to realize high fuel efficiency, low emissions, outstanding driving performance and quiet operation.  As a result, the new Estima Hybrid boasts one of the world's highest fuel efficiency performances in its class², which is on par with a compact vehicle³, and clean exhaust emissions.  Furthermore, its dynamic performance surpasses that of other vehicles in its class, with high responsiveness characteristic of a hybrid vehicle, smooth, powerful acceleration and extremely quiet operation.

In addition, the adoption as standard of the E-Four system with high-output rear motor and the first use in a minivan of VDIM (Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management), which integrates and optimally balances drive power, steering and braking, aims to take "fun to drive" to a higher level with greater maneuverability and cruising stability.

¹ Toyota Hybrid System II
² Compared to vehicles of similar engine displacement
³ Under the 10-15 test cycle outlined by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

Sales Outline
  • Sales channels: "Toyota" ("Osaka Toyopet" in the Osaka area) and "Toyota Corolla" dealers nationwide in Japan
  • Monthly sales targets in Japan: 700 units
  • Dealer launch events: June 24 and 25, 2006

Assembly Plant
Fujimatsu Plant, Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd.

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices   (Prices in Hokkaido and Okinawa differ; unit: yen)
Trim  Level     Seating          Price*(including consumption tax)
      X                         8             3,633,000
      X                         7             3,675,000
      X                         7             3,770,000 ("Welcab Side Lift-up Seat Model")**
      G                         8            4,368,000
      G                         7            4,410,000
      G                         7            4,470,000 ("Welcab Side Lift-up Seat Model")**
*   Prices listed do not include recycling fees.
** Not subject to consumption tax.

Vehicle Outline

1. Hybrid System Optimized for Minivan Use

THS II with Motor Speed Reduction Device
  • The THS II features a front motor speed reduction device that amplifies the torque from the front motor, efficiently conveys drive power, achieves smooth and powerful acceleration and contributes to the reduced size of the motor.    * The variable voltage system of the power control unit uses a booster circuit to increase the voltage supplied from the battery to the motors from 245V to 650V, increasing the power output of the front and rear motors.
  • In addition to the higher speed and output front motor, the engine output has been increased to boost overall system output, providing dynamic performance with power to spare, going beyond its class.
  • The hybrid system battery features improved cooling effectiveness and higher output.  Installing the battery within the center console allows for versatile seat arrangements, equivalent to those of a regular gasoline-engine Estima, and a comfortable interior space.

Higher-output, Higher-efficiency 2.4-liter, Four-cylinder Engine with High-expansion Ratio Cycle
  • The intake and exhaust systems, as well as engine control, were improved to increase engine speed and reduce friction for higher maximum output and better fuel efficiency.

Performance of Main Components of E-Four and THS II with Motor Speed Reduction Device

THS II with motor speed reduction device

          Engine Type:                                                    2AZ-FXE
          Displacement [cc]:                                2,362
          Maximum output [kW (PS) / rpm]:      110 (150) / 6,000
          Maximum torque [N-m (kg-m)]:          190 (19.4) / 4,000

           Front motor    
           Maximum output [kW (PS)]:                105 (143)
           Maximum torque [N-m (kg-m)]:          270 (27.5)
               Reduction gear    
                    Gear ratio:                                      2,478

            Hybrid system battery    
            Type:                                                        Nickel-metal hydride
            Rated voltage [V]:                                  245 (DC)


            Rear motor    
            Maximum output [kW (PS)]:                 50 (68)
            Maximum torque [N-m (kg-m)]:          130 (13.3)

Overall System    
            Maximum output* [kW (PS)]:                140 (190)
* Output that the system can achieve using the engine power and motor power (the motor power is dependent on battery power) (based on TMC calculations)

2. High Fuel Efficiency, Low Emissions, Outstanding Driving Performance, Quieter Ride

World's Highest Fuel Efficiency in its Class and Clean Exhaust Emissions
  • With the aim of reducing CO2 emissions, the new Estima Hybrid boasts a fuel efficiency of 20.0km/l (in the 10-15 test cycle outlined by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport-MLIT), equivalent to that of a compact-class vehicle. In addition, fuel efficiency is more than 20% greater than the level called for by the Japanese 2010 standards*, and both NOx (nitrogen oxides) and NMHC (non-methane hydrocarbons) have been cut, achieving emissions levels 75% lower than the 2005 standards under the Ministry's Approval System for Low-emission Vehicles. These achievements mean the vehicle qualifies for incentives under the Japanese government's Green Taxation System.  CO2 emissions under the 10-15 Japanese test cycle are just 116g/km (as measured by MLIT).
  • An exhaust heat recovery system has been adopted to recover thermal energy from the exhaust and use it to heat engine coolant.  This reduces engine warm-up time, which enables the engine to shut off earlier when idling, contributing to further improvements in actual fuel economy.
*Specified by the Japanese Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy.

Environmental Considerations
  • By using Toyota's original comprehensive environmental impact assessment system known as Eco-VAS (Eco-Vehicle Assessment System), environmental targets were set in the development stage and a life cycle assessment was conducted to allow the reduction of CO2 emissions throughout all stages of the vehicle's life from production and use to disposal.
  • In addition to using materials with excellent recyclability, greater attention has been paid to the environment by, among other means, reducing VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions and the use of substances of environmental concern such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and others.
Outstanding Driving Performance
  • The combination of a high-output, high-efficiency 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with two high-performance motors provides the superior responsiveness characteristic of a hybrid vehicle with smooth, powerful acceleration that exceeds that of a conventional front-wheel-drive gasoline engine vehicle in the same class.

    Acceleration during passing: 40-70km/h in 4.2 seconds (as measured by TMC)
    Acceleration from start: 0-100km/h in 10.8 seconds (as measured by TMC)
Quiet Ride
  • Road noise and engine noise have been reduced by the use of more sound-absorbing materials, the optimal distribution of vibration-controlling and sound-blocking materials and the use of noise-reducing windshield glass.  Combined with the Estima Hybrid's ability to operate as an electric vehicle when starting up and operating at low speeds or with a light load on the powertrain, the result is a quiet ride, clearly distinct from that of a conventional gasoline-engine vehicle.

3. Increase in Driving Pleasure through Greater Maneuverability and Cruising Stability
  • The E-Four (electric four-wheel-drive) system's high-output rear motor assists the engine and front motor as needed and continuously optimizes the allocation of power between the front and rear wheels, delivering levels of power and drivability under bad-weather and slippery conditions that are found only in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
  • The first VDIM used on minivans comes standard.  It stabilizes the vehicle before it reaches a critical state by coordinating control and achieving an optimum balance among drive power, steering and braking, thus allowing higher preventive safety and dynamic capability.

4. Equipment and Designs Created Specifically for Hybrid Vehicles

  • The front bumper, front grille and emblem, front and rear spoilers, headlights, combination taillights, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and numerous other components were designed specifically for the new Estima Hybrid to emphasize its high quality and advanced technology.
  • The shapes of the front and rear spoilers have been optimized to provide outstanding aerodynamics.
  • The translucent blue lens of the headlights and combination taillights evoke the clean image of a hybrid vehicle.
  • The hybrid vehicle-exclusive emblems on the side and rear emphasize the Estima's presence as a hybrid vehicle and convey an integrated image as a Toyota-brand hybrid.
  • "Light Purple Mica Metallic" has been adopted as a new exclusive body color to express the advanced nature of hybrid vehicles.

  • Alcantara┬« seats are featured in vehicles with G trim, while the instrument panel ornamentation boasts a silver wood-grain finish. In addition, the use of a large center console adds to a sophisticated feel while enhancing functionality.
  • The instrument cluster features blue tones that evoke the clean and advanced nature of hybrid vehicles.  It also incorporates a newly developed "energy meter" that displays the status of motor operation ("driving" or "energy regeneration"), electricity consumption from the air conditioner, headlights and other equipment to indicate the driving criteria for optimal fuel efficiency.  A dot-matrix multi-information display located within the instrument cluster indicates the energy flow, average fuel efficiency, possible cruising distance and other information.

Hybrid Vehicle Exclusive Features
  • The EV Drive Mode allows the Estima Hybrid to run on motor power alone for quiet and clean operation.
  • By limiting the drive power to less than would normally be applied in response to pressure on the accelerator, the Snow Mode makes possible smooth acceleration from a stop on slippery surfaces such as snow-covered and icy roads.
Welcabs: Specially equipped vehicles with factory-installed features for disabled people
  • On the Side Lift-up Seat model (detachable type), a seat from the second row can be pulled out of the vehicle and used as a wheelchair, providing enhanced comfort compared to conventional wheelchairs and alleviating fatigue when riding in the vehicle for extended periods.
  • Depending on user needs, the pull-out seat from the second row can be fitted as any one of the following three types of wheelchairs when purchasing: a manual caregiver-assisted type that is operated manually by the caregiver; an electric caregiver-assisted type that operates electrically to reduce caregiver burden; and an electric self-operating type that a disabled person can operate independently using a joystick.
  • A Side Lift-up Seat for the second row (non-detachable type) is available in an option package on all standard model vehicles.  This seat rotates and slides down outside the vehicle to help boarding and exiting from a wheel chair.
Welcab Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices* (Prices in Hokkaido and Okinawa differ; unit: yen)

Model type

                           Welcab Side Lift-up Seat model (Detachable type)
                           "Manual caregiver-assisted type" **

Seating:            7    
Powertrain:     THS II with motor speed reduction device+ E-Four    
Price***:               4,570,000
*   Prices listed do not include recycling fees.
** An electric, caregiver-assisted type costs an additional 400,000 yen; an electric, self-operating type an additional 460,000 yen.
*** Price not subject to consumption tax

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