Toyota Prius

Friday 30 September 2011
Toyota debuted the new Prius (2010 US model year) at the January 2009 North American International Auto Show, and sales began in Japan on May 18, 2009. Toyota cut the price of the Prius from ¥2.331 million to ¥2.05 million to better compete with the Honda Insight, leading some to wonder whether increased sales of the Prius might come at the expense of sales of other vehicles with higher margins. Competition from lower priced hybrids, such as the Honda Insight, also made it difficult for Toyota to capitalize on the Prius's success. Its new body design is more aerodynamic, with the coefficient of drag reduced to Cd=0.25. This figure is disputed by General Motors which found the value for the model with 17" wheels to be around 0.30 based on tests in GM, Ford, and Chrysler wind tunnels. An underbody rear fin helps stabilize the vehicle at higher speeds
The estimated fuel-efficiency rating, using the U.S. EPA combined cycle, is 50 mpg-US (4.7 L/100 km; 60 mpg-imp). The Prius was the most efficient car powered by liquid fuel available in the U.S. in 2009, based on the official rating. Only the first-generation Honda Insight (2000–2006) equipped with a manual transmission attained a lower fuel consumption rate. The official UK fuel efficiency data for the Prius T3 is Urban 72.4 mpg-imp (3.90 L/100 km; 60.3 mpg-US), Extra Urban 76.4 mpg-imp (3.70 L/100 km; 63.6 mpg-US), Combined 72.4 mpg-imp (3.90 L/100 km; 60.3 mpg-US).
The 1.8-liter gasoline engine (previously 1.5 liters) generates 98 hp, and with the added power of the electric motor generates a total of 134 hp (previously 110 hp). The larger engine displacement allows for increased torque, reducing engine speeds (RPM), which improves fuel economy at highway speeds. Thanks to its electric water pump, the Prius engine is the first consumer automotive production engine that requires no accessory belts, which also further improves its fuel economy. The electric motors and other components of the hybrid powertrain are also smaller and more efficient than the industry average. Toyota estimates the new inverter, motor and transaxle are 20 percent lighter. Disc brakes replace the previous rear drum brakes.
In constructing the Prius, Toyota used a new range of plant-derived ecological bioplastics, made out of cellulose derived from wood or grass instead of petroleum. The two principal crops used are kenaf and ramie. Kenaf is a member of the hibiscus family, a relative to cotton and okra; ramie, commonly known as China grass, is a member of the nettle family and one of the strongest natural fibres, with a density and absorbency comparable to flax. Toyota says this is a particularly timely breakthrough for plant-based eco-plastics because 2009 is the United Nations’ International Year of Natural Fibres, which spotlights kenaf and ramie among others.

Technical data:
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1800 cc
- horsepower: 134 HP
- gearbox: 6+1
- top speed: 200 km/h

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