Michael Lord of Toyota hardly gave attendees at Advanced Automotive Europe a “sneak preview” of the 4th generation Prius. The details were available as long ago as last September.
Officanados of the vehicle won’t be able to spot much of a difference unless they have the spec sheet, and even that wasn’t available in the conference proceedings.
Perhaps this reflects a little disillusion from the company that still leads the way in hybrid sales, but perhaps that because European sales of hybrids and electrics aren’t really that much to write home about — still less than 3% of overall car sales.
With the event being the premier gathering of the great and the good in European battery and automotive technology, one might have expected more from the global leader.
Lord explained that even in generation four there will still be a choice between nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion cells from Panasonic. This doesn’t reflect Toyota hedging its bets on lithium— more a case of squeezing every last cent from the nickel metal hydride line.
Close observers will see whatever battery is chosen now finds itself out of the trunk and under the rear passenger seat and with a 10% reduction in volume. Overall the company has achieved reductions of more than 20% in terms of mechanical and electrical losses and this leads to a 10% improvement in fuel economy.
But with gasoline prices edging ever downwards (for now), the pre collision braking is likely to be a bigger draw. If you’re confused about which way to go with batteries, so is the car industry: read the editor’s blog on AABC here and see a full report in the Spring issues ( subscribe here).