Next-gen Prius Bigger, More Powerful
While I don't care for the Prius, I can't deny that it has been successful in America. Not just at sales or income for Toyota, but for having one of the highest profiles of any car on sale here and for legitimately changing the automotive game. But it looks like the Prius's developmental future is a lot more conventional. Michele Krebs, writing for Edmunds' Auto Observer, reports a number of unfortunate developments for the next generation Prius, to be revealed at Detroit in January 2009. It's bigger – 3-4 inches, although not much heavier. The engine grows to 1.8 liters, and combined gas and electric power is up from approximately 110 horses to 160. But don't worry, fuel economy is up. So it's all okay, right? Wrong. Most successive generations of automobiles are able to make improvements in all areas. That does not mean the distribution of those improvements – which are often compromises and tradeoffs – is ok. Fuel economy will be up in the next Prius? Imagine how much more it could be up if they weren't trying to squeeze another 50 horses out of the car, or adding 4 inches to the body. Ms. Krebs also confirms that the Prius model range will grow (hopefully a smaller, lighter coupe is included), and reminds that a Lexus version with a 2.0-3.0 liter engine is still on the table. This is an example of Toyota losing the plot, trying to make the Prius appeal to more people – and in so doing, diluting the one of the single most focused products on the automotive market. But hey, it's all in the pursuit of sales numbers. [Thanks to starlightmica for the tip]
I think it looks kinda space ship like. I like it.
The suggestion that Toyota is losing the plot because the next gen Prius will be larger and more powerful is informed by the common misperception that 'green' products can only be effective when the consumer is willing to make some personal sacrifices and compromises in their purchasing decision. The truth is that it's simply a matter of applying our ever increasing technical knowledge and capabilities to achieve the benefits we seek. Anything else is grossly wasteful. This particular improvement in powertrains, for example, is not unlike the development of EGR valves decades ago. The increased power and body dimensions bring nothing but benefits to fuel economy, on top of the inherent benefits those changes carry in and of themselves.
Still hoping for the "plug-in" version, but a 50mpg "city" rating in a larger vehicle is a hell of a selling point. If they can do it, while making it look a bit more "mainstream", people will stand in line for this one. For someone like me (who is now driving a 29MPG Elantra less than 6k/yr.), it wouldn't make much sense, but for someone driving a 25MPG vehicle 15k/yr., it's a winner!
A couple of minor corrections and comments. The current generation Prius (2004-2008) has not got "energy saving" (i.e. useless) tires, it has normal radial all-season tires. There were too many complaints from the prior generation of Prius and Toyota actually took notice (gasp! wow!) As for the rumors that the Japanese Government helped Toyota develop the hybrid technology, I ask you - why is that "wrong" when our own American tax dollars were UNSUCCESSFULLY P!SSED AWAY on the so-called "Supercar Project" by "Willy" Clinton? Doesn't anyone else remember the so-called 80 mile per gallon hybrid cars supposedly developed by GM, Ford and Chrysler over a decade ago? Yeah, we paid for that. The idiots in Washington did like they always do. Threw money at a perceived problem. They forgot to require that if GM, Ford and Chrysler accept the money, they should build so many of the cars per year...... so none were ever put into production. But of course, from what I understand, the Chrysler was nothing but fakey-do anyway. The microturbine was running in some of the drives - but it was not connected to anything. They had to be short drives, as they big clunky batteries were the only power source. Yeah, the Chevrolet Volt was "supposedly" already engineered by GM, Ford and Chrysler over a decade ago. I think as a taxpayer, I'd like to know where my money went. And yep, I'd like it back, thanks.