Toyota executives cited two reasons for their choice of nickel-metal hydride.
"Itís a tried-and-true technology that has a decade of success behind it," Toyota spokesman Greg Thome told us. "It's also got the lower-cost technology that we can offer to younger hybrid adopters." The nickel-metal hydride battery pack is located under the rear passenger seat, near the center of the vehicle, and sits low in the chassis to lower the vehicle's center of gravity.
Toyota engineers also made an effort to optimize the motor-generator for the five-door subcompact, Thome said.
"In addition to making the battery smaller, we took special pains to keep the motor-generator smaller, as well," he said. "It's constructed the same as the Prius Liftback's motor-generator, but we tried to optimize the sizing and packaging for a smaller vehicle." The motor's output is 60hp, versus 80hp on earlier Priuses.
The Prius family, unveiled two years ago at the Detroit Auto Show, also includes the Prius Liftback, the Prius v, and the plug-in Prius PHV, which will be introduced this year.
For a deep look at GM's Chevy Volt, we recommend you go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director Brian Fuller. In the trip, sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is taking the fire-engine-red Volt to innovation hubs across America, interviewing engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students as he blogs his way across the country.
I've often heard that the Prius was a very noisy car to ride in, even though it doesn't make any engine noise when coasting at 5-10 mph. Chuck, is this true, and, if so, has Toyota ever addressed this issue, especially with its newer models?
If they can sell it for under $19,000, I will seriously consider making a Prius my next car purchase. Up to now, I considered a hybrid to be out of my price range - and with plenty of non-hybrid small cars on the market getting great gas milage, it seemed like a hybrid powertrain wasn't worth the cost premium. But at thiis price, I'd be very interested.
I like the look of this Prius--it definitely captures some of that sporty, minimialist look that seems to be a must among a lot of the cooler, boxy vehicles that appeal to the younger crowd. So with this Prius model, there is no charging--the hybrid approach means the gasoline engine charges the battery when in motion, right? Having to keep the vehicle charged would be a big problem since many citites still don't have adequate charging infrastructure available and younger buyers don't typically own homes where they can create that infrastructure on their own.
Tesla Motorsí $35,000, 200-mile electric car may not revolutionize the auto industry by itself, but it could serve as a starting point for a long, steady climb to a day when half of the worldís vehicles will be plug-ins.
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