With every generation of the Prius, Toyota strives to create a better version of the original and very successful concept that forever changed the way consumers and automakers view the car market. The Japanese company promises the same for the fourth generation of the series, to be introduced with the next year or so.
Speaking to Toyota officials at this month's Automotive World, an annual technical conference, Autonews learned that the company has developed the next Prius hybrid to be on the forefront of design, technology and manufacturing.
Among other advancements, Toyota's compact model will debut a smaller and lighter, yet more powerful and efficient electric motor.
"When we look at the next-generation Prius next-generation Prius, we will have a new type of hybrid system. We will make it even smaller, lighter and less expensive. That will strengthen its commercial attractiveness," said Soichiro Okudaira, chief of Toyota’s r&d division.
However, Toyota is still pondering the use of lighter lithium ion batteries instead of the heavier nickel-metal hydride units used since the original Prius in 1997.
"We aim to use lithium ion for Prius, but we are not sure yet," Hideki Iba, general manager for Toyota's battery research division told Autonews. "Or we could differentiate within the Prius lineup between ones that use lithium ion battery and other ones that use nickel-metal hydride batteries."
Another aspect of the new Prius that Toyota seems keen to point out is its looks, with Toyota's global design chief pledging "a revolutionary design, inside and out".
As we learned last year when Toyota first talked about the next Prius, the hybrid model will ride on the new Toyota New Global Architecture (TGNA). This platform will have a lower center of gravity and stronger structure, with Toyota promising improved handling dynamics as well.
According to the report, it seems highly unlikely that Toyota will transfer any production of the Prius from Japan to the USA.