By on August 29, 2013

Toyota’s Satoshi Ogiso and Bob Carter address the global media gathered in Ypsilanti for Toyota’s Hybrid World Tour press event

The chief engineer for Toyota’s Prius program, Satoshi Ogiso, who is also managing officer of Toyota Motor Corp, gave some hints about the next generation of Toyota’s highest profile hybrid car at a presentation held as part of Toyota’s Hybrid World Tour, a press event that gathered together all of Toyota’s hybrid cars sold around the world for the first time in one place, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, not far from Toyota’s large R&D center in Ann Arbor.

Ogiso, who oversees product planning and chassis engineering for Toyota, said that while the company continues to work on fuel cell cars and expects to be selling 10,000 or more fuel cell cars a year by the 2020s, Toyota is committed to the concept of hybrid cars that combine electric motors and combustion engines. Due to refinements in Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, the next Prius will get “”significantly better fuel economy in a more compact package that is lighter weight and lower cost, Ogiso said.

“The performance of this next generation of powertrains will reflect significant advances in battery, electric motor and gas engine technologies,” the Toyota engineer said. He also said that while hybrid components will get smaller, the footprint and interior dimensions of the Prius will remain the same.

Comparing a 10% gain in fuel economy to sprinter Usain Bolt taking a second off his world record in the 100 meter dash, Osigo said that Toyota is aiming at 55 mpg for the next Prius, compared to 50 mpg for the current model. In response to a question about when that next Prius will arrive in showrooms, Osigo gave the standard ‘can’t comment on future product plans’ response but then pointed out that the first three iterations of Toyota’s flagship hybrid were spaced six years apart, hinting strongly that the new Prius will be launched in 2015.

That car’s traction batteries will have a higher energy density, and its electric motor, though smaller, will put out more power. Toyota is also aiming for a thermal efficiency of 40% for the gasoline fired combustion engine, which would be the world’s most efficient.

Future models of the Prius may also feature a wireless charging system that Toyota will being testing next year.

Ogiso said that the next Prius will be the first Toyota to use the company’s New Global Architecture platform and it will have a lower center of gravity and better structural rigidity.

Ogiso also addressed other alternative energy developments at Toyota, including hydrogen fuel cells and supercapacitors. While Toyota is already planning production fuel cell cars within the next decade, supercapacitors, which are used in Toyota’s TS030 LeMans racer, also on display at the event, are not yet ready for use in a street car.

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26 Comments on “Chief Engineer: Next Gen Prius Will Get Better Gas Mileage, Cost Less...”

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    Impressive. The Prius is already one of the most cost/effective cars for those who buy and drive their cars for over 100K miles, although it is any cost savings in the architecture, not fuel savings, that will make the next gen Prius better on that front.

    We’re really starting to hit the point of diminishing returns on gas savings on the hybrid side: For a 100K mile, $4/gallon gas, going from 50 MPG to 55 MPG only saves $800. The big savings still available is going to electric, where at $.15/kwh and 36 kWH/100 miles (Volt numbers) this saves $1900 over the 55 MPG car…

    • 0 avatar

      except the Volt gets 30 mpg when not on battery. So when you drive more than 40 miles (and that diminshes with age) you eassily pay more. And we don’t even compare to the plug-in Prius.

      You also need to take care into account that commercial charging stations need to charge more money than you pay at home. first they make a profit and have expenses. Second, commercial charging statiosn will be used during daytime, whne elctricity for commercial accounts is expensive. So isntead of $0.15 you need to do the math with 0.25$/kWh (or whatever they charge).

      • 0 avatar
        Nicholas Weaver

        This was for establishing “where can money savings come from in the future”, not comparing the Volt in particular [1], just using its efficiency on electric as a convenient benchmark.

        The Prius is getting way past the point of diminishing returns for gasoline power on efficiency: The customer benefit for the next gen will be in a lower cost to make, not a lower cost to drive.

        And for future electric/gas cars (e.g. i3) or present electric-only (Leaf) the number is the home number. And for every overpriced commercial charging station, you hear stories about “work lets me plug in for ‘free\'” (which would be my case).

        [1] Which although interesting, you need an, umm special commute like mine to make it pencil: 40 miles each way, but free plugs at work. So for me, the volt would make sense, but I’m holding out for the next-gen unless the i3 has a color combo that doesn’t look like a hideous wreck…

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Agreed. “Doing the math” for a plug-in (which I consider the Volt to be) is pretty complicated because the length of the commute and the availability of a charge at work have significant effects on the cost savings over any gasoline-powered car. The way I drive, for example, I would probably trigger the Volt’s ICE about once a month. So the savings per month over any gasoline-powered car would be quite substantial. The only reason I don’t run out and trade my 12-year old BMW for one of the sweet deals now being offered on a Volt is that I do not expect my situation to last another year; and afterwards, I have no idea what my vehicle use will be.
          Regarding the Prius, it would be nice if the next version were not such a hair shirt of a car (e.g. less spartan interior, less road noise, a little more driving competence). I have not been in the Lexus which uses the Prius drive train, but the Prius strikes me a car in which everything has been optimized for maximum fuel economy. To me, at the level of fuel economy the Prius achieves, that does not make sense.

          • 0 avatar

            Hair shirt? Perspective helps. I used to own a Ford Aspire. The Prius is a marvel of comfort, performance and solidity.

          • 0 avatar

            @Kix; can you really compare a Ford Aspire to much, let alone a Prius?

            My commute is 58 miles and mostly highway. Alternatives other than ICE powered don’t appeal as they are too slow for merging in traffic and onto the highway or just pulling out on a right turn without having oncoming trafiic light up their brake lights. I do have some nice cloverleaf on ramps so it has to handle well enough to hit the apex and leaving the tailgating mid-sozed sedan behind. It has to quiet at speeds and be comfortable for hours on end.

            Turbo-4 output is where it is. Efficiency of 4-cylinders at cruise and torque curve that will make some V8s jealous.

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry, I got to throw the flag on this one. I don’t know how hard you have to drive a Volt to get 30 mpg, but I have never gotten below 40 on gas mode (42-43 is the norm). That’s driving back roads, N Georgia to Fl traveling 60-65 mph on open roads with Lord knows how many small towns in between to have to slow down and speed up again. Thats with the car in “sport” mode.

        My daily commute is about 40 miles/day so the car works for me. I don’t expect to plug in at my destination- ironically I work at a 3300mW power plant.

        PS If you truly want to save money on transportation, buy a 1981 Honda Accord and replace the CV joints and timing belt. Good luck in a crash.

        • 0 avatar

          Those are pretty much ideal driving conditions for a hybrid or plug in hybrid vehicle. My Prius v returns 47-48 mpg in those conditions (rated at 40 highway). It plummets to 40 at 70-75 mph.

          • 0 avatar

            I used to get 60mpg or better, in my Civic Hybrid, under similar conditions (45~55mph roads, 30 mile commute, four traffic lights and four stop signs total). Granted, I put a lot of air in the tires and I drafted off of full sized pickup trucks. (Before anybody complains, morally speaking it’s perfectly A-OK to draft off of anyone who is the last in a line of tailgaters.) Pretty ideal conditions for a hybrid indeed!

        • 0 avatar


          Voltstats says the median CS mode fuel economy is 35 or so. Congratulations but you’re not typical.

  • avatar

    That’s great but when will it arrive? Toyota usually doesn’t talk too much about their cars until they’re fairly close to production but the vibe I get from this and other reports is that the next Prius is still a year out. I’d prefer to be wrong about that.

  • avatar

    There is one benefit of the prius (and all efficient vehicles) that no one mentions – less stops at the gas station. For many people, the gas station is something to happily avoid, the mess, standing out in the cold, etc. So if you can go 600 miles between fills, nice benefit. And while the Prius family isnt cheap, it isnt a huge markup from other well equipped cars, so i dont think everyone is doing the ‘payback’ math.

    • 0 avatar

      Payback math? Ha-ha. I still know people who judge fuel economy by $/fill-up.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure passing gas stations is something any normal driver takes into consideration, anyone can go down to tractor supply and get an auxiliary pickup bed tank of 100 gallons, add that to the factory tank an one could go at least 1100 miles. (Thinking 6.0 here)

      However I believe everyone can agree that wouldn’t be very fun filling over 130 gallons of fuel for their wallet. But I’m definately not concerned about the chances of finding a gas station in the normal 300 mile radius.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        Unless you prepay in cash, You can’t put 130 gallons in anything at any gas station around here. They all click off at specific authorization limits that range from $75 to $100.

    • 0 avatar

      My Prius v has an 11 gallon tank (not including reserve), so I get roughly 450 miles per tank… same as my 22mpg 4Runner. I spend half as much filling the Prius v, though.

      I love that I get practically zero brake dust on my wheels. And brakes last ~100k miles. Being light on hard tires means the tires last a long time, too.

  • avatar

    OK. So don’t buy one now.

  • avatar

    Nice to know the slow, deliberate Prius driver in front of me, keeping me from getting where I want to go expeditiously, will be getting even better gas mileage.

  • avatar

    The tiresome “return on investment” argument regarding hybrids just won’t go away. Maybe some people buy hybrids because they can get from here to there without burning as much gas. Maybe it’s sort of like a hobby. No one applies ROI to hobbies. In fact, no one seems to bring up ROI criticism to any other embellishments people typically add to perfectly serviceable basic cars.

    As for the elimination of gas station stops, this is not all that useful without also using a catheter or something.

    • 0 avatar

      Most people want to save gas because they want to save money. Most people buy hybrids to save gas. ROI analysis is logical.

      For most people, other than rich guilt-assuaging eco-posers, if a hybrid isn’t going to save them money, there is no reason to buy one.

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