Toyota Prius: From “ugly duckling” to compact with sex appeal, this is how the world’s best-selling hybrid car has evolved

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In 1997 Toyota surprised by the launch of a car that alternated the operation of a petrol engine with an electric one. The era of the Prius was born, which has now just presented its new generation which, at first glance, looks impressively large.

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When the Japanese brand presented the first Prius 25 years ago, it chose to give it a controversial design to make it clear from its shapes that it was a different vehicle from the rest.

The truth is that it was the technology and not the style of this model that convinced the users: with fuel economy in the city that could reach 40% compared to a conventional petrol car, this Toyota has amassed ever since more than 5 million units sold worldwide (and more than 20 million hybrids in total) and led other producers to follow his recipe.

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However, its renewal is not without debate, as several countries are starting to set an expiration date. banning all vehicles using a combustion engine, even hybrids. Europe, for example, has set it at 2035.

At Toyota, they recognize this dilemma. “With the current interest in electric vehicles, not a day goes by that we are not asked: How long will they produce hybrids?”said Simon Humphries, global director of design at Toyota, during the presentation in Tokyo.

“Electric vehicles are an important solution but they are not always the best option for everyone. In a pluralistic world, we need a diversity of options,” added Humphries.

This statement could perfectly fit the context in Argentina and parts of Latin America, where the charging infrastructure for electric cars is very small and where battery-powered cars are outrageously expensive. In this sense, hybrids seem more logical for a market like ours.

The new era of the Prius

The most obvious change of this new generation has to do with the design. Toyota abandoned those particular forms compared to the previous Prius and endowed the new model with smoother lines and a much more harmonious figure. The end result may be somewhat reminiscent of Tesla’s style.

But not only the shapes are responsible for this transformation, but the Japanese brand, historically conservative but in the process of deconstruction, has chosen a bolder range of colors, also including some original colors like this yellow.

The other aspect that affects the style has to do with the wheel options, as you will be able to adapt wheels up to 19 inches. The LED headlights that give it the new light signature on the nose will be standard.

Toyota uses the TNGA platform to produce the new Prius and, according to the brand, has managed to improve the structural rigidity and dynamic behavior of the model, especially its cornering performance. The measures of the new hybrid reach 4.49 meters in length, 1.78 meters in width and 1.41 meters in height, with a wheelbase of 2.75 metres.

The other major change is the evolution of its mechanics. On the one hand, it will offer a conventional hybrid which delivers 193 hp and another plug-in hybrid with 223 hp of combined power.

The conventional hybrid has a 2.0-liter gasoline engine and another electric motor that puts out far more power than the current model’s 122 horsepower. However, Toyota promises that the new package will be more fuel efficient.

The other option, the plug-in hybrid, has a larger battery pack which can be recharged by plugging it into the mains and which allows autonomy without using a drop of petrol. Without disclosing precise data, the manufacturer guarantees that, despite the increase in power, fuel efficiency is maintained.

It also expects driving performance using electricity alone to be 50% more compared to the previous model, so you have to expect a range of more than 60 kilometers.

The Toyota Prius arrived in Argentina in 2009 and became the first hybrid to be marketed in the country. The current version started to be sold in 2019 and is still in the range of the Japanese brand. However, it is currently not available for purchase according to its website. We will have to wait to see if the new generation will be available in the local market.

Source: Clarin

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