Click above for more images of the 2009 Toyota Prius
Automotive engineers who are currently working on hybrid drivetrains have a bit of a conundrum on their hands. Should they make the most of the battery pack's available power to eke the highest mileage possible or should they configure the electronics to offer the best performance? Generally speaking, the right answer falls somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, but that doesn't make the job any easier. Where is the perfect compromise between sportiness and efficiency? If sales are any indication, hybrids should lean more on their fuel mileage capabilities than on their sportiness, as the Prius clearly does in its second-generation model that's currently for sale.
Toyota's third-gen Prius, though, will somehow manage to be both more efficient and sportier. Toyota has had a few years now to tweak its Hybrid Synergy Drive and has created both performance hybrids and super-efficient hybrids from the technology. According to Toyota managing director Miguel Fonseca, the next Prius will emit less than 100 g/km of CO2 while offering sportier performance. The automaker could have gone even lower, and rumors indicate that a second, even lower carbon emitting model will in fact be available in Europe.