Toyota Unveils Gas-Electric Prius Hybrid, Going On Sale In Japan This Winter

The new Toyota gas-electric Prius hybrid not only has more power, acceleration and drive. It’s also very stylish, scraping a strong angular body for a futuristic look.

Simon Humphries, the CEO of Global Toyota Design who presented the car in Tokyo and Los Angeles on Wednesday, emphasized that the company continues to defy the skeptics who keep asking how long the Japanese company will work with hybrids in the fast electrifying industry.

“Just because the Prius is an eco car that is available to everyone. To achieve carbon neutrality, everyone in the world must participate,” he told reporters. “We need environmental solutions that are accessible to many. And it needs to start today, not tomorrow.

The fifth-generation Prius hybrid will go on sale this winter first in Japan and then in the US. A plug-in version will hit the market next year, according to Toyota. Prices were not announced.

The automaker swapped out the old nickel-metal-hydride battery for a smaller, lighter lithium-ion battery that delivers 15 percent more power. The engine grows from 1.8 liters to 2, and the horsepower increases from 121 to more than 190. As a result, zero to 60mph (97 kilometers per hour) drops from just over 10 seconds to 7 seconds depending on the Prius version.

“That will make driving more confident,” said Stephanie Brinley, chief auto analyst for S&P Global Mobility.

The Prius, which went on sale in 1997, switches back and forth between a gasoline engine and an electric motor to deliver a cleaner drive than models with conventional combustion engines.

Toyota estimates that the 2023 Prius will get 57 mpg in combined city and highway driving, calling it the most efficient Prius ever.

Electric vehicles are zero-emission but need to be recharged. Some consumers are worried about running out of juice on the roads. A hybrid always has a gas engine as a backup.

Toyota has sold more than 20.3 million hybrid cars, including the Prius, around the world so far. Prius, which means “pioneer” or “first” in Latin, has been described by Toyota as a brand similar to its flagship Lexus models.

Even so, Toyota’s environmentalists are sometimes criticized by environmentalists for dragging their feet on electrification, although some analysts say that is wrong since some car manufacturers also have a few electric cars in their companies, while many others have come up with different types of hybrids.

“The sale of many hybrid cars, including the Prius, is drawing us into the climate crisis,” said Daniel Read of Greenpeace East Asia, based in Tokyo.

Read said electric vehicles and fuel-cell models are better solutions against climate change than hybrid models.

Humphries said the new Prius has been designed to be more stable, with a lower center of gravity, bigger tires, more curved overall design and a nicer interior.

“We really believed that the next step for the Prius was to be a ‘no-compromise car’ to increase its appeal to the customer,” said Humphries.

The Prius, with its improved styling and efficiency, will compete better not only with other hybrid models but also with the available generation of fully electric cars,

The Prius model has served as a bridge in an era where there are more charging stations for EVs, said Brinley, who believes the new Prius stacks up better against hybrids and plug-ins from Hyundai, Kia, Ford and Jeep.

By adding 50 percent to the range of the batteries, which means about 38 miles (61 kilometers), it can go far enough to cover the average US driver’s commute and some errands in the city. The hybrid powertrain allows you to go on the road without worrying about the charging network not being used up, Brinley said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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