Toyota has said the next version of its hybrid Prius model will offer improved fuel efficiency due to advancements in component design.
The next Prius, expected to be introduced in 2015, will have better batteries and a smaller, more efficient electric motors, the company said on Wednesday.
"When the next-generation Prius arrives, it will begin a new era for a broad range of Toyota and Lexus vehicle by marking the arrival of a substantially improved family of hybrid power trains," said Toyota’s managing officer Satoshi Ogiso.
In recent years, Toyota has stepped up research, development and production capacity of battery technologies, searching for optimal solutions regarding battery density and the relationship between the battery output and its dimensions.
According to Ogiso, the company’s engineers are not only looking into improvements of currently dominating nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries, but also experiment with new battery technologies including solid state and lithium air.
The next Prius – building on more than 16 years of Toyota’s experience with hybrid technologies – will be the fourth redesign since the vehicle’s introduction in 1997.
With every new generation, the car offered about 10 per cent better energy efficiency, improving related technologies on the way. The current version, for example, is fitted with batteries four times more powerful than those of the original model.
According to Ogiso, the interior of the next-generation Prius will be more spacious than the current one and the car will also introduce some advanced safety features.
Following the introduction of a Plug-In version of Prius in 2012, Ogiso said, Toyota will be developing a new fully-electric Prius model in parallel with the hybrid one. The car maker is now working on an innovative wireless-inductive charging system that would enable cable-less recharging of the vehicle's batteries. The technology is expected to be stested next year.
Ogiso said Toyota is also working on a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that might enter the global market in 2015 – as the first mass produced vehicle of this type in the world.