Since it first appeared as a quirky saloon in Japan back in 1997, it has progressed to become the undisputed standard-bearer for the high fuel and emissions efficiency of Toyota hybrid power technology.
In its progress through three generations, Prius has benefited from significant improvements and innovations that have made it kinder to the environment, cheaper to run and more practical to live with. Its official CO2 emissions figures have fallen from 114 to 89g/km and the cost of its hybrid powertrain has been reduced by two thirds. In its development of the current, third generation model, Toyota filed more than 1,200 patents, demonstrating its continued commitment to technology leadership.
In the past two years Prius has grown from being a single model to embrace a family of vehicles designed and engineered to meet the needs of a wider customer base. In Europe these include Prius+, the world’s first full hybrid seven-seat MPV, and Prius Plug-in, the first Toyota to embrace rechargeable lithium-ion battery technology for extended zero-emissions electric power capability. In North America and other world markets, the smaller Prius c/Toyota Aqua has also been launched – bringing hybrid to a market segment that’s covered in Europe by Yaris Hybrid.
Toyota has made hybrid a core technology for the developing more environmentally efficient vehicles and it continues to make significant investments that will help secure sustainable global growth. In the financial year ending in March 2014, it is expected to spend more than £5 billion (790 billion Yen) on research and development and facilities for developing hybrid and other cutting edge technologies, as well as strengthening development of new platforms and components.
Projects include a new 651-hectare R&D facility and a new 12-storey powertrain Development and Engineering building in Toyota City.