by Jack Rosebro
|The Prius v. Click to enlarge.|
Seeking to build upon the “mystique and persona”, in its words, of the current Prius, Toyota introduced the Prius v, its new hybrid wagon/crossover and the second vehicle in a planned family of at least four carrying the Prius nameplate, to journalists last week, ahead of the vehicle’s expected North American debut this fall.
The Prius v is one of three planned regional iterations of the vehicle: Toyota will release the vehicle as the Prius+ in Europe, and as the Prius α in Japan (earlier post). Those vehicles will be offered with a third-row seating option not available in North America; vehicles with that option will use a smaller, high-output lithium ion battery pack mounted underneath the center console, to make room for the additional seating.
|Bob Carter: Prius may eventually lead Toyota sales in US|
|Prior to introducing the Prius v, Toyota’s Bob Carter emphasized that the previously announced Prius α production delay would have no impact on Prius v production, and that summer deliveries of Prius models to the US will be at approximately 70% of normal levels, with about 36,000 Prius v vehicles scheduled to arrive during the summer months.|
|Carter remained bullish on long-term prospects for the Prius, remarking “as Corolla and Camry have defined our past...the Prius family, in many ways, will define our future... I can see Prius eventually leading Toyota sales in the US.”|
|Carter also announced that more than 17,000 potential plug-in hybrid buyers have signed up on Toyota’s Prius PHV priority reservation website in the month that it has been open.|
The Prius plug-in hybrid (PHV), to be released next year, and a low-cost compact hybrid based on the Prius C design study (earlier post), to be introduced sometime afterward, will constitute the Prius family’s third and fourth vehicles, respectively.
Toyota’s sales target for the Prius v (for “versatility”) is about “ten to fifteen percent” of conventional Prius sales in North America, or about 15,000 to 25,000 vehicle per year, depending on which year is used for comparison, according to Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager Bob Carter.
Although Toyota had set a Japanese sales target of 3,000 Prius Alphas per month, the company has already registered about 25,000 preorders in Japan since the reservation process was opened.
The Prius v carries over the P410 powertrain with a 1.8 liter 2ZR-FXE engine, a 60kW traction motor, and a 201V Ni-MH battery pack, which was introduced in the 2010 Prius and subsequently used with minor variations in the Lexus CT200h, Lexus HS250h, and the Europe-only Toyota Auris hybrid.
Powertrain refinements unique to the Prius v include a redesigned engine coolant heating structure surrounding the vehicle’s catalytic converter and a new “pitch and bounce” motor control refinement that is automatically employed on undulating roads.
|Comparison of the current Prius EHR system (left) and the Prius v EHR system (right). Click to enlarge.|
First introduced on the Generation III Prius, the exhaust heat recirculation system—which uses a heat exchanger to transfer waste heat to the engine’s coolant system—has been refined to reduce engine warm-up time and improve occupant heater response time in cold weather. Coolant recirculation through the exhaust heat recirculation system is now electronically controlled by a switch valve.
Pitch and Bounce Control is designed to improve ride comfort and control; because the Prius v is a larger vehicle with greater load capacity, suspension components were redesigned to improve handling and ride quality. Pitch and Bounce Control works with the vehicle’s suspension to cancel porpoising when the vehicle is driven over uneven surfaces such as expansion plates.
|Schematic of Pitch and Bounce motor control operation. Click to enlarge.|
The torque of the vehicle’s traction motor is adjusted, based on wheel speed sensor inputs, to neutralize repetitive oscillations in the range of 1 to 2 Hz, according to Toyota chief engineer Hiroshi Kayukawa, which helps to suppress “bounce and toss” motion. New coolant passages for the traction motor have been added to the transaxle, as well; the conventional P410 transaxle uses dedicated coolant passages for the generator alone.
Additional efficiency-related improvements include a new lightweight synthetic leather material called SofTex, which is produced with low CO2 manufacturing processes, and a high-efficiency JBL GreenEdge stereo, which can generate audio output equal to a conventional audio system, while using about one-half the power. The system is also about one-third lighter that a comparable conventional car audio system.
The Prius v has an estimated EPA fuel economy rating of 44 mpg US city / 40 mpg US highway / 42 mpg US combined (5.35 L/100km / 5.88 L/100km / 5.6 L/100km).