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Toyota launches Prius α in Japan; forecasts delay in deliveries of the new model

Prius α S Click to enlarge.

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has launched the Prius α (Prius alpha) in Japan. Derived from the third-generation Prius hybrid, the α offers an interior allowing multiple seat arrangements. Concurrent with launch, however, Toyota announced that it forecasts an unavoidable delay in delivery of the Prius α due to the ongoing effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake on production.

The α is the basis for the five-seat Prius v planned for launch in North America this summer, and the seven-seat Prius + planned for launch in Europe in mid-2012. (Earlier post.)

The Prius α is available in two interior configurations: a five-seat, two-row model and a seven-seat, three-row model, the latter’s third row enabled by a space-saving lithium-ion drive battery—a first for a Toyota-brand mass-produced hybrid vehicle—in the center console. (The five-seat model uses a NiMH battery pack.)

Prius α powertrain
Engine 1,797 cc (2ZR-FXE)
Engine power 73 kW (98 hp)@ 5,200 rpm
Engine torque: 142 N·m (105 lb-ft) @ 4,000 rpm
Electric motor: Permanent magnet synchronous motor
Motor output: 60 kW/207 N·m torque
Hybrid system net power: 100 kW (134 hp)
Battery (5-seat) NiMH
Battery (7-seat) Li-ion

The Prius α features the Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) with motor speed reduction gear and uses a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle engine. The combination of aerodynamic performance (0.29 drag coefficient) and low weight enable a fuel efficiency of 31.0 km/L (73 mpg US, 3.2 L/100km) in the 10-15 test cycle outlined by MLIT (equivalent to 75 g/km of CO2 emissions), or 26.2 km/l in MLIT’s JC08 test cycle (equivalent to 89 g/km of CO2 emissions).

The vehicle exceeds the existing Japanese 2010 fuel efficiency standards by 25% and meets new 2015 Japanese fuel efficiency standards under the Law Concerning Rational Use of Energy. CO2 emissions are 75% lower than 2005 standards (Japan’s strictest) under the MLIT approval system for low-emission vehicles, qualifying the Prius a for Japanese government tax reductions and subsidies for environment-friendly vehicles.

TMC employed its Eco-Vehicle Assessment System (Eco-VAS) to reduce environmental impact, including CO2 emissions. A review of materials, processing methods and adhesives used for interior parts has reduced the amount of volatile organic compounds, thereby reducing interior odors to levels below the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association’s “Vehicle Cabin VOC Testing Methods for Passenger Cars” voluntary standards.

An Electric Vehicle (EV) driving indicator within the Hybrid System indicator is standard on all models. The indicator shows when the gas engine shuts down and the vehicle is powered by the electric motor only, thus giving the driver full awareness of the vehicle’s performance.

Among the new technologies featured on the α is a large resin panoramic roof, a first for a TMC vehicle, that is 40% lighter than a glass equivalent and enhances the interior’s sense of openness. A switch-operated electronic roll shade linked to the door locks can be operated even from outside the vehicle.

TMC has a monthly Japan sales target for the new α of 3,000 units.



Does this implies that a larger Prius will consume less fuel then the current Prius III?


seven-seat, three-row model

That is either a really stretched wheelbase or very small people.


Another 2007/2008 economic crisis may do it.


The third row are occasional seats for children you don't like.
We have quite a lot of these sorts of vehicles in Europe.


The 5-seat version uses the same 1.3 Kwh battery mounted in the cargo space as the Prius III.

The 7-passenger version uses a 1.0 Kwh Lion battery installed between the two front seats. The usable energy from this smaller battery is equivalent to the regular Prius III.

Too bad that the 5-passenger version does not (yet) come with a lithium batter, not even as an option.

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