Toyota Talks 2015 Prius, Hybrid Technology, Hydrogen Car, and Supercars at World Tour

By Jacob Brown | August 29, 2013
We're reporting from Ypsilanti, Michigan, to bring you the latest of a long list of news items to come from Toyota at its Hybrid World Tour. The event brings together journalists from around the globe to talk about Toyota's past and its future in reducing gas consumption and carbon dioxide emissions as well as letting us drive more than 20 hybrid vehicles sold around the world, many of which will never make it across the pond to the U.S. But it also has brought about a good number of newsworthy items like details of Toyota's 2015 hydrogen fuel-cell plans, the next-generation Prius' fuel economy and technologies, and even some slivers about what we expect to be the fifth-generation Toyota Supercar. Without anymore ado, here are the details: Paragraphimage Toyota to Introduce 2015 Hydrogen Car at Consumer Electronics Show You know those pictures of Prius prototypes we've shown you? What if we said they weren't the 2015 Prius but instead the 2015 hydrogen Toyota? Chalk that up to some fine camouflage work. The '15 hydrogen car will be making its U.S. debut at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. We have it confirmed that it will not be an egg-shaped car like the Prius; rather, it will be a traditional sedan. Toyota has said that while infrastructure is the toughest part to selling a hydrogen car, it remains ambitious and hopes to target people who may like the idea of a long-range electric car but don't necessarily enjoy spending precious hours charging their car. It is thought that the car will retail for between $50,000 and $100,000, but sources within Toyota have indicated that the price may dip lower if that's where the market is. Toyota will not lop thousands of dollars off the price to drive sales numbers, as have traditionally been the case with electric vehicles not named Tesla. The car is set to make its official debut at the Tokyo Motor Show in November and will make it to Vegas in January, where this year the company showed off an autonomous version of the 2013 Lexus LS 600h L to demonstrate its safety systems. Paragraphimage 2015 Toyota Prius to Up Efficiency, But Maybe Not as Much as You May Think The buzz number kicking around for the next-generation Toyota Prius is 60 mpg. At least it is in the auto journalist sphere. Everywhere else, the hyper-efficient Prius may have its work cut out for it to do much better than 55 mpg--still a 5-mpg improvement over the current car. Satoshi Ogiso, the managing officer of Toyota's alternative fuels programs, confirmed at the Hybrid World Tour that the Prius will continue to run development of both nickel metal and lithium-ion batteries; the latter will be destined for the second-generation Prius Plug-In. Currently, the Prius' gas engine runs at 38.5-percent thermal efficiency; the 2015 model will enjoy efficiency of more than 40 percent. "In its three generations, Prius mpg has improved on average by about 10 percent each generation," Ogiso said at the conference. "The challenge to continue to improve at this rate, to beat your own record, becomes very difficult. But it makes it all the more motivating. I can tell you that we are very motivated to beat our own record." Going by the 10-percent-per-generation standard, that would peg the 2015 model at 55 mpg if Toyota were to continue that trend--not 60. The next Prius will ride on an all-new chassis, featuring a lower center of gravity, increased structural rigidity, greater aerodynamics, more affordable, more compact parts, and better ride and handling. As Ogiso joined Toyota out of love for the Corolla AE86 sports coupe, the guy has sporting prowess in his blood. Let's see what kind of magic he and his team can pull out of the next-gen egg car. Prius Plug-In Goes Wireless with Next-Gen Charging Says Ogiso: "We have been listening very carefully to Prius [Plug-In] owners over the past two years, and we are considering their requests for additional electric range." Word on the street has Toyota pushing the current car's 13-mile all-electric range into the mid-20s to better challenge the Chevrolet Volt's 35. Continued Ogiso: "We have also heard from these owners that they would like a more convenient charging operation. In response, we are developing a new wireless/inductive charging system that produces resonance between an on-floor coil and an onboard coil to recharge the battery without the fuss of a cable." Ogiso said Toyota will be testing the system in the U.S. and Europe in 2014 before the car's on-sale date. Paragraphimage Toyota Talks High-Performance, Sets Date for Next-Gen Supercar So whatever happened to that partnership Toyota struck up with BMW to develop a sports car? Well, the fruit of that deal could be seeing daylight sooner than you might have thought. A person within the company hinted that the supercar would be first shown at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, and we'd like to give a good guess that it will be the initial concept for the fifth-generation Supra supercar. Toyota has more than dabbled in high-performance hybrid sports cars, from its upcoming 400-horsepower Yaris Hybrid-R hatchback to its Toyota TS030 hybrid prototype race car, which took second place overall at this year's 24 Hours of LeMans in France. While Toyota says that a capacitor-based system--versus batteries--isn't likely to make it to a road car anytime soon, the idea that Toyota would focus on hybrid technology for its next supercar isn't too far out of the question. The 2015 Acura NSX will be a hybrid, and it's anticipated that the next Nissan GT-R will be as well. We wouldn't be surprised or upset to see the Supra go that route, too. Odds and Ends...
  • Toyota will have 15 new hybrid models out by 2015 worldwide, including the hydrogen car and Prius. Might the others include a hybrid sports car or truck somewhere in there?
  • Speaking of that, Ogiso said that "We cannot say what the development of a hybrid pickup or commercial application will be," but "We are definitely still interested in it." Toyota ended its partnership to develop a hybrid truck with Ford earlier this year.
  • As we reported earlier this year, Toyota is experimenting with solid state and lithium-air batteries. The idea is to have them on the road within 10 years. Toyota says it is trying to make electric motors and batteries using virtually no rare earth metals eventually.
 
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