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2013-08-29 09:01

GREEN ICON: Toyota says an even more efficient Prius (this is the current one) is on the way for 2015, as well as a new fuel-cell vehicle. Image: Toyota

Dee-Ann Durbin

YPSILANTI, Michigan - Toyota has two important vehicles coming in 2015: the next-generation Prius hybrid and the company's first hydrogen fuel-cell car.

Satoshi Ogiso, a Toyota engineer who helped to develop the original Prius 20 years ago, said the new Prius would get significantly better fuel economy than its current model's 4.7 litres/100km and would have an advanced battery and an electric drive and petrol engine combination that was smaller, lighter and cheaper.


Ogiso wouldn't reveal the fuel consumption but he's hoping to at least match the 10% gains Toyota has made in the previous three versions of the Priuses. That would mean 4.2/100 in combined city and highway driving. "The challenge to continue to improve at this rate, to beat your own record, becomes very difficult but I can tell you we are very motivated to beat our record."

The next Prius will ride closer to the tar to improve handling and aerodynamics and. Ogiso said, "will have a nicer interior". He added that a cheaper hybrid system could help bring the Prius's price down to the equivalent to R247 000 - it sells for R388 900 in South Africa - and hep it to five-million sales in the US by 2016.

As of July 2013, the company had sold more than two-million Toyota and Lexus hybrids.


Bob Carter, Toyota US's senior VP for automotive operations, said the brand's hybrids had come a long way since launch in 2000. Just over 5500 were sold that year; in 2012 that number had risen to 236 000. "Arguably, Prius is more than a car. It's become a pop culture icon."

He added that even as the company introduced other technologies, among them hydrogen fuel-cell and battery cars, hybrids would remain at the core of the company's offerings for at least another 50 years.

Ogiso said more details about the hydrogen fuel-cell car would be released in early 2014. So far there is only one other commercially available hydrogen fuel-cell car in the US - Honda's FCX Clarity, which is leased in limited numbers in southern California.

Zero-emissions* fuel-cell cars are not likely to be big sellers until there are more hydrogen fuel stations but Ogiso said Toyota was committed to the technology and expected to sell "tens of thousands" of them through 2030.

*There are no "zero emissions" fuel-cell cars. They need hydrogen, which requires lots of electricity to "refine", so electricity generation makes the emissions insteads. The car itself, however, it totally clean.
Read more on:    toyota  |  detroit  |  michigan  |  prius  |  hybrids

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