Toyota rolls out new Prius to fend off rivals

May 18, 2009
A man looks at the third-generation "Prius" of Japanese auto giant Toyota Motor at a showroom in Tokyo. Toyota Motor on Monday rolled out a cheaper, revamped Prius, seeking to boost its flagging sales and maintain its lead in fuel-sipping hybrids in the face of growing competition from rival Honda.

Toyota Motor on Monday rolled out a cheaper, revamped Prius, seeking to boost its flagging sales and maintain its lead in fuel-sipping hybrids in the face of growing competition from rival Honda.

Toyota hopes to sell 10,000 of the third-generation cars a month in Japan, where it has a price tag starting from 2.05 million yen (21,580 dollars), about 12 percent less than the current cheapest model.

The Japanese giant, the world's largest automaker, has sold more than 1.25 million Prius vehicles since its launch in 1997, making it the world's most popular hybrid, but rivals such as Honda are seeking to challenge its lead.

The new price tag narrows the gap with Honda's Insight hybrid, which retails for 1.89 million yen.

will also sell a new version of the second-generation Prius with a price on a par with the Insight, which was the top-selling vehicle in Japan in April. It aims to sell 300,000-400,000 Prius cars in total this year worldwide.

Toyota has received pre-launch orders for more than 80,000 third-generation Prius cars, which the company says has a world-beating of 38.0 kilometres per litre, or 50 miles per gallon. Its predecessor had 46 mpg.

The revamped Prius -- which was unveiled at a Tokyo ceremony by incoming president Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the company's founder -- has in the roof to power the ventilation system.

It has a 1.8-litre petrol engine and Toyota's first electric-powered water pump.

Japanese automakers have made strides with -- which are powered both by petrol and electricity -- because of high oil prices and growing concern about emissions blamed for global warming.

Toyota, which lost 436.9 billion yen in the year to March, has much riding on the success of the new model, which is being launched in the midst of a severe global . Fuel prices have also fallen since last year.

The group expects a net loss of 550 billion yen in the current business year.

It has idled plants and slashed thousands of jobs in response to its biggest ever crisis.

The group, which overtook General Motors last year to become the world's top-selling automaker, in January announced the promotion of Toyoda, currently an executive vice president, to rescue the company from its biggest ever crisis.

(c) 2009 AFP

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3 / 5 (1) May 18, 2009
How long does the battery pack last and what is the projected cost to replace it?

It seems like a good start but it's a complex system, a vehicle with a diesel engine with a manual transmission gets better mileage (70mpg) with a bit more pollution compared to the hard working small 4-cylinder gas engine of the Prius (how hot does it get? A lean running gas engine creates more Nitrogen Oxides and the valves burn out.

I don't see why a diesel-electric hybrid vehicle hasn't been produced; no sparkplugs, distributor or sparkplug wires to degrade the only thing you need to watch out for is the fuel filter and change the air filter once or twice per year. I bet you could double the mpg if a diesel-electric set-up was used.

Several comments:
that is 70 miles/British gallon (actually 73) but 58 (it's a VW) in the uS.
The new Diesel emissions technology actually has lower pollutants/mile than gasoline fueled engines.
Hybrids are about 50% more costly, environmentally, when the whole life-cycle is taken into account.
4 / 5 (1) May 18, 2009
Why is the cost of the replacement battery never mentioned?
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2009
Toyota's iQ subcompact gets 61 mpg, and it's not even a hybrid. Why isn't it being sold in America?
5 / 5 (2) May 18, 2009
3 words: wheres the plug?!
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2009
Toyota's iQ subcompact gets 61 mpg, and it's not even a hybrid. Why isn't it being sold in America?

Because Americans don't like to buy small cars. They have wanted to have all those SUVs and trucks until they could not anymore buy the gasoline they like to guzzle.
2 / 5 (1) May 19, 2009
38km per Litre is 89.38mpg (US) or 107.3 mpg (UK)
(woo! I found a use for wolfram alpha: http://www89.wolf...=38km/l)
5 / 5 (1) May 21, 2009
I agree. I want to top up the battery with household electric power for short trips (the mass bulk of my use)

not rated yet Jun 23, 2009
Re "WHERE"S THE PLUG", Toyota will probably be the last mfgr in the world to enable plug-in. They percieve their complex, effective but costly prius parallel hybrid drive technology to be a big marketing advantage and are badmouthing the much cheaper and simpler series hybrid plug-ins for any reason they can find.

And let's face it, any current parts supplier with a bit of financing could set up to manufacture a viable series-hybrid, just requires an electric motor, some lithium batteries, a Honda etc generator, drivetrain done.

It will be a brutal transition for the big outfits like the big T.

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