If you're doing some research on hybrid vehicles and specifically trying to learn everything you can about the Toyota Prius, this should be a great place to start. Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing a series of posts about the most popular hybrid car in the relatively short history of hybrid automobiles. Rather than start with the first and oldest Prius model and work our way forward, we'll begin with a preview of the upcoming version and finish by going back in time.
Rumors about what we supposedly know so far.
For starters, the next generation Toyota Prius gets a much needed increase in engine size, moving from the 1.5 liter engine we've seen from 2004-2009 to a 1.8 liter powerhouse.
In addition, the new Prius is an inch wider and and inch shorter in length. Statements have been made by Toyota that the next generation Prius might include some form of plug-in hybrid option (aka PHEV), and a lithium-ion battery. Lithium batteries are said to be more powerful and lighter than the nickel ones in past model year Prius.
Probably the best available information on how the next Toyota Prius will differ from what we've seen during the last 5 years comes from a test drive and article in Popular Mechanics. To summarize, the prototype mentioned in this article still had a 1.5L engine, along with two (2) nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) batteries - the same ones the current version uses. The driver was able to reach speeds of about 50 mph using only the batteries, and estimates were that this prototype would be able to travel 3-4 miles without ever engaging the gas engine.
Does anyone have a clue?
The next generation Prius features a sophisticated three-link independent rear suspension, exceptional rigidity due to extensive use of high-strength steel, and high crash-safety scores.
Three Toyota Prius' are better than one.
Lastly, I ran across a post on Motor Authority citing another article in Automobile Magazine that mentioned Toyota's plans to release three new hybrid vehicles labeled the Prius A, B, and C, with the new models due in the next few years. So...there you have it. After reading and scanning nearly a hundred pages of pure speculation about the secret Prius, I really don't feel like we know anything yet. When that changes, we'll get you the good stuff.
As is stands today, the Prius is still the hybrid to beat.
Jeff Carey is a green vehicle enthusiast who manages a portfolio of more than 60 hybrid and electric blogs. Learn more and subscribe to his monthly newsletter at http://www.hybridkingdom.com.