These days, hybrids and all-electric vehicles have been gaining a lot of attention in the automotive world. And with talk of new upcoming luxury models it’s easy to forget that over the last two decades Toyota’s Prius has been a leader in fuel-efficient transportation.
Earlier this month, Toyota unveiled its all-new 2016 Prius in Las Vegas, and it seems as though the company has decided to step away from the ordinary, as the new model boasts a fresh, sporty look. In addition, the 2016 Prius is more spacious, offers better handling and has a modern, stylish interior.
If you’re planning to enroll in auto mechanic courses, or you’ve recently started your program, read on to learn more about the past and future generations of Toyota’s Prius.
History of the Toyota Prius: An Automotive Industry Game-Changer
Anyone in an automotive career knows that the Prius is commonly referred to as one of the most important vehicles of the past 25 years. This is because with this car, Toyota was not only capable of making gasoline-electric hybrids a reality, but the company also made these environmentally-friendly cars mainstream.
Toyota introduced the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle to Japan in 1997 and to the rest of the world in 2001. The automaker wanted a progressive name for its new hybrid model, so it chose Prius, which is Latin for “to go before.”
When the first generation Prius was introduced to North Americans, they were not entirely impressed. The hybrid took 13 seconds to get from 0 to 60mph (0 to 97km/h)—several seconds longer than some of Toyota’s other sedan models, like the Corolla. However, the Prius still caught on and Toyota was glad that sales in the first year exceeded expectations.
In 2003, the second generation Prius was fully redesigned with more power, better fuel economy and fewer emissions. As a result, sales for Toyota’s Prius doubled in 2004 and doubled again in 2005. In the U.S., many customers were even placed on waitlists in order to get their hands on the hybrid.
Students pursuing automotive careers might recall the release of the third generation Prius in 2010. This is because by this time, it had become one of the best-selling hybrid vehicles in the world. North America accounted for half of the vehicle’s global sales, with over 1 million Prius models being sold in the U.S. between 2000 and 2011.
Automotive Specifications of the Fourth-Generation Prius
Individuals taking auto mechanic courses will be interested to learn that the 2016 Prius is the first vehicle to use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) modular platform, which provides a lower center of gravity and increased structural rigidity. The TNGA platform also allows for improved agility and aerodynamics. The fourth-generation Prius is lighter in weight and less expensive than its predecessors, and it is designed to deliver significantly better fuel economy.
Toyota’s 2016 Prius will feature a new generation of powertrains with improvements to the battery, electric motor and gasoline engine technology. The new batteries have higher energy density, and the smaller electric motors have higher power density than the current Prius motors. The car also boasts a gasoline engine that has a thermal efficiency of over 40%.
The new model is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and 0.8 inches lower. It has a double wishbone independent rear suspension, and features various standard LED headlamps.
To date, Toyota has sold over eight million hybrids, with the Prius accounting for the vast majority of such sales. The Prius is what turned Toyota into the “green” automotive icon that it is today.
Check out the 2016 Prius Las Vegas debut here: