Rumors Rampant: Next-Gen 94MPG Prius by 2008?
10 April 2006
The UK’s AutoExpress reports that Toyota’s fuel economy target for the upcoming next-generation Prius is 40 kilometers/liter (2.5 l/100km, or 94 mpg US), and that the automaker is striving to have the new Prius on the road as early as 2008.
According to a Toyota engineer quoted by the publication, the entire electrical system is being redesigned to improve the fuel economy, and the automaker is working to switch to a lithium-ion battery system from the NiMH pack used in the current Prius.
Part of the impetus for the dramatic improvement in fuel consumption is to position the Prius to compete more effectively against the more fuel-efficient diesels that now dominate the European market, according to the report.
At 94 mpg, the redesigned Prius would approach the lower end of the projected 100–150 mpg fuel consumption of EDrive’s aftermarket plug-in Prius. (Earlier post.) The EDrive conversion currently carries a price tag of about $12,000 in addition to the cost of the base Prius.
The AutoExpress report did not indicate if Toyota was working with a plug-in configuration, or if the company is exploring major changes in the combustion engine.
"At 94 mpg, the redesigned Prius would approach the lower end of the projected 100–150 mpg fuel consumption of EDrive’s aftermarket plug-in Prius. (Earlier post.) The EDrive conversion currently carries a price tag of about $12,000 in addition to the cost of the base Prius."
Now the plug-in zealots won't be satisfied with 94 mpg. :)
Posted by: Joseph Willemssen | 10 April 2006 at 11:00 AM
One thing I was thinking about regarding high MPG vehicles is the impact on long road trips.
I've driven from Western VA/NC to NY/CT/MA about 50 times in my life. It's a solid 400-550 miles, depending on actual source and destination.
I only stop for gas.
I wonder if I would stop if I didn't have to, and how that would effect my safety.
I'm not saying that a 94 mpg Prius is bad, just wondering aloud about secondary and tertiary effects.
Posted by: stomv | 10 April 2006 at 11:11 AM
The Plug-in Hybrid's 100+ mpg is possible only when daily driving range is kept under 30 miles or less. For longer trips, average mileage will drop to under 50 mpg and less, depending upon the weight and class of the vehicle. If we want high mileage, we must drive less. And this initiates the resolution to the problem of too many cars and too great a need for long-distance travel.
The more fuel efficient vehicle for long-distance travel is mass transit. Denver operates a fleet of hybrid shuttles on their transit mall. They're a 45' completely low-floor bus with 4-doors and a 4-cyl 70hp engine (natural gas fueled), the same size as the Prius engine. The shuttle passenger capacity however is 117.
Posted by: Wells | 10 April 2006 at 11:39 AM
Our problems won't be solved by technology; they will only be solved by a change in our cultural, social, and political landscape. High mileage cars are nice (I have a Prius), but not if we're just using them so we can live farther and farther from work and drive longer and longer distances.
Stormy. Suggest you just stop every couple hundred of and stretch. Worrying about whether we'll stop often enough is the least of our problems.
Wells: The Denver pedestrian mall is a thing of beauty. Most people walk up and down the mall, by the way. But the shuttle is damn convenient if you're in a hurry to get from one end of the mall to the other. And you forgot to mention that it is free. All public transit should be free.
While we're giving away hundreds of millions of dollars for things like hydrogen, let's give a few million to the person who can figure out how to get people out of their damn cars.
Posted by: t | 10 April 2006 at 12:12 PM
"The more fuel efficient vehicle for long-distance travel is mass transit. Denver operates a fleet of hybrid shuttles on their transit mall. They're a 45' completely low-floor bus with 4-doors and a 4-cyl 70hp engine (natural gas fueled), the same size as the Prius engine. The shuttle passenger capacity however is 117."
I'm a little confused. First you're mentioning long-distance travel, then your example for an efficient means of long-distance travel is a bus which has a one mile route on a dedicated busway? Plus, the passenger capacity of that bus is primarily standing passengers (since it's a short-distance shuttle). There's very few seats on those buses.
As for the powertrain, the 70hp figure is deceptive (since obviously one needs way more than a 4-banger with 70 hp to move a big bus with 100+ passengers). It's actually a series hybrid running a 2.5 liter engine off of CNG which charges batteries which power DC motors providing 440 hp at the wheels. The Prius has a 1.5 liter engine and is a series/parallel hybrid.
Posted by: Joseph Willemssen | 10 April 2006 at 12:14 PM
I believe that plug-ins will most certainly be catching on by 2008. That’s time for a lot of lithium battery progress. Therefore, I don’t believe Toyota would come out with a “prior” generation vehicle in 2008, that is NOT a plug-in! I hope this isn’t just wishful thinking
Posted by: George | 10 April 2006 at 12:35 PM
t, the 16th street mall is great but the shuttles are slow. I found that I can easily out jog them to get down from one end to the other. When I worked in lodo I used to race them from market street down to broadway on the other end. I never lost. I'm not in great shape either. Still, the buses are nice. Also, I don't think that the Prius or other high mileage vehicles are causing sprall. Property values have a much greater impact.
Posted by: Tripp Bisop | 10 April 2006 at 01:33 PM
The rising price of gas will outpace the changeover to high mileage vehicals. So don't worry about sprall, everyone might be forced to huddle together by the time major changes occur. Its a step in the right direction, lets hope other automakers follow suit. Not sure that the gasoline engine will make since in the lifetime of the 2008 Prius (20 years). I'd rather buy a diesel.
Posted by: Mike H. | 10 April 2006 at 02:22 PM
Cheer up lads. If Toyota pull this off, it will be brilliant. Even if they don't. it is a wake up call for the other car manufacturers.
They say it will run on battery in slow traffic and switch to petrol when it gets faster - doesn't sound like a plug in at this stage. I guess you could always hack it for EV only.
A s/w only hack might do the job for smaller distances.
But Go Toyota - this is the stuff we want to see !
Posted by: mahonj | 10 April 2006 at 02:25 PM
I wish that GM could have similar vision. I fear they are headed for Chapter 11.
Posted by: eric | 10 April 2006 at 02:33 PM
Even plug ins need to switch to gas at high speeds. So that feature has nothing to do with whether or not it is a plug in. It has to do with the power of the electric motor and the power density of the battery.
Posted by: t | 10 April 2006 at 02:35 PM
Oe needs remember that Lithium Ions have many times the storage capacity of NIMHs, and weigh a whole lot less.
This example shows you that just because it's good, doesn't mean it can't be made better.
If someone had built my suggestion about a BioDiesel Hybrid when I first suggested it several years ago, we could be driving powerful vehicles today that get well past 100 mpg. It's nice to see Mitsubshi and Toyota nibbling around the edges, but not a one is brave enough to go all the way.
Posted by: Lucas | 10 April 2006 at 02:37 PM
If this report is true, Prius must be going plug-in. I don't see how you almost double the overall thermal efficiency of the existing Prius, which is what is implied by 94mpg.
Posted by: Nick | 10 April 2006 at 03:27 PM
First of all alot of mass trnsits are in dire straights because thier fuel costs are also going up. They were only cheap because they got etremely cheap fuel.
Now they are cutting back routes left and right to concentrate on busy routes and thus cant do even 1/10th the job needed.
Posted by: wintermane | 10 April 2006 at 03:52 PM
Stormy: The motorman's friend? I need to unload more often than the car needs to load:-)
Eric: GM: RIP.
Posted by: Robert Schwartz | 10 April 2006 at 04:31 PM
I would love to see how they are going to achieve this with a gas engine.
Maybe HCCI is the core ICE technology. The lithium ion batteries must really boost effective EV range.
Weight is another factor. They must be looking at ways to radically reduce weight (other than the batteries).
Posted by: Lance Funston | 10 April 2006 at 04:48 PM
Deathwatch part 65 just posted, not as biting as some, but still interesting if you read it
Posted by: duh | 10 April 2006 at 05:05 PM
"All public transit should be free."
The government has to finance it somehow, and just a reminder April 15th is this Saturday :)
This is great news if any of it is true. Toyota said with the launch of the Camry hybrid they could make the Prius more extreme, maybe this is what they meant by it. I also read somewhere that Toyota wanted to get this new Prius out, not only to keep distance on some diesels in Europe but for the new Prius to be out before Mitsubishi, Subaru or any other automaker comes out with an all electric car.
And about plug ins having to switch to gasoline at high speeds, they don't HAVE to...GM's EV1 could cruise on teh highway right? And what was it's top speed when not governed? And how far have we come since then?
Posted by: Eric | 10 April 2006 at 05:10 PM
A 94 mpg Prius? Yes it can be done but not without a big change. Lighter or bigger batteries wont do it. More electric power wont do it. You need to get more effiency out of the gas engine itself. One way to do this is with an exhaust powered generator. This my friends is not free engergy but it comes close. There is back pressure created but its not as much as the energy extracted. The exhaust actually exits cooler as more energy has been extracted from it.
The exhaust generator would generate more power for electric mode.
94mpg could also come from a HCCI gas engine which also wrings more power out of each gallon of gas.
The control electronics can get about 10% or so better with current advances in semiconductors with almost no increase in cost. They currently get quite hot and newer parts available today generate far less heat.
Posted by: hampden wireless | 10 April 2006 at 05:59 PM
Plug-in hybrid will never improve the MPG. Because the battery charge state has to be same before and after the fuel consumption test. 100-150 mpg test result is possible if Plug-in electric energy is used, but it is not the fair test. 500-1,000 mpg test result is also possible if such test is allowed.
I am sure Plug-in hybrid is not the direction to go.
Posted by: Yoshi | 10 April 2006 at 06:22 PM
Yoshi, given the right driving conditions your point is irrelevant. People with short commutes will rarely need gasoline, especially if they are doing low speed city driving. Also, it should be pointed out that the 94 MPG probably comes from the japanese MPG test which gives the current Prius high numbers. Thus, the 94 MPG isn't as big a leap as it sounds and in real world conditions it may be difficult to achieve depending on commute, traffic patterns, weather, etc....
Posted by: Tripp | 10 April 2006 at 06:31 PM
"People with short commutes will rarely need gasoline, especially if they are doing low speed city driving."
In which case, why are they driving a 4,000 pound vehicle to do it?
Posted by: Joseph Willemssen | 10 April 2006 at 06:48 PM
The new Prius will not be plug-in. Toyota has invested millions of dollars advertising the fact that you don't have to plug it in, and are firmly committed to that for the time present at least. The savings will come from a few things:
1) better battery technology
2) more efficient use of electric engine
3) lighter weight. The car can currently get much lighter by switching to an aluminum, using a tube frame, or carbon fiber body. Expect at least one of the above, but probably not all three.
Posted by: Alex Krupp | 10 April 2006 at 06:49 PM
Alex, I wouldn't write off PHEVs from Toyota solely based on some of the previous hybrid ads. They've already said they're going to take the Prius more extreme, making it a PHEV would do just that. That's not to say that they're going to make the Camry Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid, RX400h, GS450h, LS600h all plug ins as well. Toyota will probably not make all of those models plug ins (atleast not any time in the near future), they want have hybrid versions of every vehicle they make so they need to appeal to the mainstream and most of the mainstream isn't ready for PHEVs. The Camry hybrid (and other Toyota hybrids) will be for "the mainstream", the new Prius will be going "more extreme" as Toyota has already said.
Posted by: Eric | 10 April 2006 at 07:02 PM
"Alex, I wouldn't write off PHEVs from Toyota solely based on some of the previous hybrid ads."
$20 says it won't be a plug-in.
Posted by: Joseph Willemssen | 10 April 2006 at 07:10 PM