As the second size extension of the Toyota Prius family tree, the 2012 Prius+ adds a healthy dose of roominess to the well-known fuel-sipping hybrid equation, and it's making its world debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. There's seating for seven occupants inside, but the multi-purpose vehicle shares a clear design language with Toyota's standard-bearing Prius. What's more, it manages a low 0.29 drag coefficient thanks to its extended roofline and carefully designed front fascia.
Equally as notable is the battery. This is the first lithium-ion battery pack to be incorporated within a non-plug-in Toyota full hybrid. Toyota has found enough room underneath the center console between the driver and the front passenger to fit the battery, which helps maximize interior space for occupants and their cargo.
As you would expect from a Prius, there are three drive modes: A zero-emission EV mode that relies on electric motor power alone, an ECO mode that maximizes efficiency and fuel economy and finally a somewhat ambitiously named POWER mode that is said to boost overall performance.
Toyota is saying that the Prius+ will be on sale in Europe in the first half of 2012, but it's coming to the U.S. around the same time in the form of the Prius V, which we previously saw at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. Check out the complete press release after the break and be sure to check out our high-res image gallery of live photos below.
Photos copyright ©2011 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL
- Global sales of multiple award-winning Prius passing 2.1 million units
- Prius Plug-in Hybrid – 20 km EV mode range and CO2 emissions of only 59 g/km
- Lease project feedback reports Prius Plug-in Hybrid surpasses customer expectations
- Prius+, the first full hybrid seven-seater in Europe
- Prius+ features the first lithium-ion battery to be incorporated within a non-plug-in Toyota full hybrid
Prius – The Original Full Hybrid, Ahead of its Time
The world's first mass-produced full hybrid vehicle, the Prius was launched in Japan in 1997, and in Europe in 2000. While rival manufacturers are only now introducing a first hybrid variant to their existing model ranges, the stand-alone Prius has already entered its third generation.
With global sales now passing 2.1 million units, the Prius maintains a peerless reputation for reliability, durability and low cost of ownership.
The Prius has been Japan's top selling car for 20 consecutive months#, and has beaten the country's all-time sales record for any model. The previous record was held by the Toyota Corolla which, in 1990, sold 300,008 units. Exceeding this figure by some margin, Prius 2010 sales totalled 315,669 units.
Prius has been consistently ahead of its time in addressing not only CO2 emissions, but also air quality. Even operating in normal drive mode, it generates significantly lower NOX emissions that any comparable diesel or petrol vehicle. In EV mode, it generates zero CO2, NOX and PM emissions.
Internal Toyota studies performed with the third generation Prius show that during a typical city trip, when the average speed is below 30 km/h, more than 25% of the journey takes place with the engine off, resulting in considerable reductions in average fuel consumption and emissions.
Customer perceptions of full hybrid technology have evolved significantly over the last decade. And Prius, initially appealing through its unique concept, environmentally-friendly credentials and advanced technology, is now widely recognised as a true mainstream vehicle.
With interest in hybrid technology growing fast, a recent Toyota survey shows that hybrid drive is now a clear third choice after conventional petrol and diesel engines. It is no longer seen merely as an 'alternative' power source, but is recognised as an entirely mainstream powertrain option.
Nonetheless, the Prius remains a front-runner in the field of technological innovation. Each generation has introduced new, high technology features to the segment ahead of their time.
Amongst numerous new technologies showcased in the third generation Prius are a world-first combination of a solar ventilation system and remote controlled air conditioning, a head-up display, Touch Tracer switchgear and a pre-crash safety system.
Since being named 2005 Car of the Year by European motoring journalists, the Prius – and its Hybrid Synergy Drive® powertrain - has gone on to win numerous awards. Most recently, it proved the most reliable car in the 2-3 year age category and was awarded Goldene TÜV-Plakette, in the 2011 German Auto Bild TÜV Report.
Moreover, in a detailed examination of a new car's winter driving capabilities, it was the winner of the Finnish magazine Tekniikan Maailma's 2010 Cold Weather test. This award is a clear testament to improvements in the cold weather efficiency of its full hybrid powertrain.
Prius will continue to lead Toyota's European full hybrid deployment strategy. With other Toyota HSD models introducing the benefits of full hybrid drive to a broadening customer base, the Prius will remain a showcase for new technologies and further advances in HSD powertrain design.
Prius Plug-in Hybrid – The Best of Both Worlds
The further development of electric cars as urban commuters is currently handicapped by a number of factors. On the technical side, inappropriately large, heavy and costly batteries are required to offer a satisfactory range. From the customer perspective, no adequate recharging infrastructure yet exists, and range anxiety remains a concern.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid addresses each of these issues, making it the most feasible short-to mid-term solution to the electrification of powertrains.
It offers customers a seamless transition from the Toyota full hybrid driving experience. Thanks to its alternative, on-board power source, it can be used as a conventional full hybrid beyond the electric driving range, and recharged from a domestic source when convenient.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid represents a significant expansion of the Hybrid Synergy Drive® system's capabilities. It fulfils the specific needs of urban-based customers with a significantly extended, fully-electric EV driving range for shorter journeys, while the hybrid powertrain's petrol engine awards the vehicle true long range capability, as in the standard Prius.
Its compact, high energy density lithium-ion battery pack gives the Prius Plug-in Hybrid a range of approximately 20 km at speeds up to 100 km/h when driven in EV mode. Rapid charging is a further lithium-ion asset; the battery pack can be fully recharged from a standard, 230V household outlet in just 1.5 hours.
The vehicle's fuel efficiency is significantly enhanced by its extended EV range. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid returns a remarkably low fuel consumption figure of only 2.6 l/100 km – a reduction of 30% over that of the Prius. Furthermore, CO2 emissions have also fallen to an unprecedented low of just 59 g/km.
With the goal of bringing the Prius Plug-in Hybrid to the market globally in 2012, some 600 vehicles are already involved in limited lease projects worldwide –one third of them in 18 European countries. The lease projects are designed to assess every aspect of real-world use, and verify the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid's overall environmental and technological performance before it goes on sale in the second half of 2012.
European lease project customer feedback is very encouraging. A majority of surveyed users have reported that the Prius Plug-in Hybrid exceeds their expectations, in many cases significantly. With the most frequent journeys of 50% of customers being less than 20 km in length, and 82% of them achieving a real life EV range of over 15 km, two thirds of daily users are fully satisfied with the vehicle's EV driving range.
Customers find the car easy to use, regardless of whether or not they have previous experience of full electric drive. 84% of them recharge the Prius Plug-in Hybrid at least once a day, and over 80% of them find the charging process simple, and are happy with the 1.5 hour charging time. Wherever possible, users prefer to charge the vehicle in a private location.
Since the Prius Plug-in Hybrid may be driven as a full hybrid once its maximum EV range has been reached, users report no feelings of range anxiety whatsoever. 75% of them find that they naturally drive in a more eco-friendly manner, 80% comment on the high comfort levels of PHV driving, and every user enjoys the silence and relaxation of driving in EV mode.
Prius+, the First Full Hybrid Seven-seater in Europe
Making its World debut at the 2011 Geneva motor show, the Prius+ represents a further expansion of the Prius family, broadening the appeal of the Toyota full hybrid's environmental credentials and advanced technology to the widest customer base yet.
Meeting the needs of growing, environmentally conscientious European families, the Prius+ is the first car to offer European customers the versatility of seven seats combined with a full hybrid powertrain.
As its name suggests, the Prius+ provides a significant increase in space and passenger accommodation, with three, independent, split/folding second row seats and a
50:50 split/folding third tier. Yet it sacrifices none of the traditional attributes found in the Prius DNA, such as the lowest fuel consumption of any seven-seater on the market.
On sale in the first half of 2012, the Prius+ is a new vehicle, designed from the ground up. Its exterior design hallmarks it as an evolution, rather than merely an elongated version, of the standard Prius.
The sleek, bold styling features an extended roofline with an integral, panoramic sunroof, retaining the iconic Prius triangle silhouette and awarding the Prius+ a low Cd 0.29 drag coefficient. The trapezoidal front incorporates sharp-edged headlamps, turbulence-minimising aero-corners and an enlarged lower grille for improved aerodynamics and engine cooling. Distinctive rear styling is highlighted by a practical, top hinged tailgate, intricate combination lamp clusters and a roof spoiler to further improve air flow.
The Prius+ showcases the latest generation of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive® powertrain. It features the first lithium-ion battery pack to be incorporated within a non-plug-in Toyota full hybrid.
First appearing in the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, the lithium-ion battery pack's compact dimensions make it ideal for installation underneath the centre console between the driver and the front passenger, offering no compromise to the seven-seat passenger accommodation or loadspace of the MPV-style interior.
As in the standard Prius, the Prius+ features three 'on-demand' drive modes to increase the capabilities of the full hybrid powertrain: An EV mode allows for ultra-quiet running on electric motor power alone, resulting in zero fuel consumption and emissions. An ECO mode maximises hybrid system efficiency and fuel economy. And a POWER mode boosts system performance.
The Prius Family – Expanding to Meet the Needs of a Broader Customer Base
Maintaining its environmental and technological leadership for over a decade now, the Prius remains the most advanced mass produced full hybrid vehicle on the market.
Having introduced the world to the benefits of Toyota's remarkable Hybrid Synergy Drive® technology, Prius will now become the first full hybrid vehicle available as a complete, stand-alone model range.
The three models will significantly expand the Prius customer base and subsequent sales; the Prius Plug-in Hybrid appealing to a new group of urban-based customers, the Prius+ targeting growing, environmentally conscientious European families who require the space and flexibility of a larger, seven-seat vehicle.