Detroit Auto Show 2009: New 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid Will Get 50 MPG, Optional Solar Roof


Photo: Michael Graham Richard. Click to see 2010 Toyota Prius Slideshow.
Solar Moonroof and Electric A/C
Another new feature that helps save energy but can also make the car more comfortable (especially for those living in hot areas) is the optional "solar moonroof". It's a small array of PV cells that power a ventilation system on hot days so that the car doesn't become a burning greenhouse. This makes it more comfortable, but it also reduces the need for air conditioning.

Optional LED head lamps can also be had to further conserve battery power.

Eco-Plastics in the Interior
Newly-developed plant-derived, carbon-neutral plastics, known as "ecological plastic," will be used in the seat cushion foam, cowl side trim, inner and outer scuff plates, and deck trim cover. According to Toyota: "Ecological plastic emits less CO2 during a product lifecycle (from manufacturing to disposal) than plastic made solely from petroleum; it also helps reduce petroleum use."


Hybrid Synergy Drive
The hybrid powertrain is still called the Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD), but it has been significantly updated. Toyota^ says that 90% of it has been changed (this doesn't include the battery chemistry, though; the new Prius will use NiMH like the 2004 model).

Some of the new improvements include:

  • The transaxle is lighter in weight and reduces torque losses by as much as 20% compared to the previous model.
  • The inverter, which converts direct current to alternating current, has a new direct cooling system to reduce size and weight.
  • Taken together, the inverter, motor and transaxle are smaller and 20% lighter.
  • A newly developed electronically controlled regenerative braking system has been adopted, with control logic optimized to enhance regeneration.
New Platform and Weight Reduction The 2010 Prius is built on a new platform, which, according to Toyota, "enables improved handling stability, quieter operation, and collision safety." Disc brakes are now used on the 4 wheels, instead of only 2 in the previous generation.

"Weight was saved through use of aluminum in the hood, rear hatch, front suspension axle and brake caliper and super high-tensile steel in the rocker inner, center pillar, and roof reinforcement."

The new Toyota^ Prius will still have 6 airbags (2 front, 2 side, 2 curtain).


Photo: Michael Graham Richard. Click to see 2010 Toyota Prius Slideshow.
When Does it Go on Sale? Pricing?
Pricing will be announced when the 2010 Prius goes on sale in the late Spring. The first countries to get the new Prius will be Japan and the USA, followed by Canada, with an eventual goal of 400k units per year by 2010.

See also: Our 2010 Toyota Prius slideshow!

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Tags: Detroit Auto Show | Hybrid Cars | Toyota | Transportation