Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Sep 16

World Crosses One-Million Plug-In Sales Milestone


In this latest edition of As the World Turns, one million PEVs have appeared as of this month, there were just a handful five years ago, and you read it here first (probably).

How quickly do you think we’ll hit 2 million? When will the U.S. cross 1 million?


Plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) have transcended one million sales worldwide.

Included in this count are highway legal, light-duty all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids sold in markets around the globe.

Plug-in cars started in negligible volumes last decade, but the mass-market began just less than five years ago. The first half million came in July 2014, and now one year and two months later another half million have been sold.

In December 2014 reported 712,000 plug-in sales globally, and nearly 300,000 more sales have taken place over the past nine months.

As of August 2015 the count was 985,000 less Japanese sales numbers which were not reported yet, and as of mid-September, an estimated 1,004,000 PEVs have been sold consisting of 62 percent battery electric and 38 percent plug-in hybrids.

1M Reached Quicker Than Hybrids*

*If you count a few thousand plug-ins into last decade, the speed of growth was not as impressive, but comparing the time it took mass-market PEVs to mass-market hybrids shows PEVs achieved one million almost twice as quick.

So, this one-million milestone does includes a small handful of cars predating the launch of the mass-market Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt in December 2010, but the overwhelming share came after this time.


Counting therefore from that time of just thousands, it took four years and 10 months to reach one-million PEV sales.

By contrast the regular hybrid market dominated from 1997 onward by Toyota, with a contribution by Honda and a handful by Ford, saw its first million in more than around nine years and a few months, in 2007.

Our records do not pinpoint the date of one million, but Toyota sold 866,000 hybrids through December 2006, and Honda was at 200,000 in May 2007. It was some time in early 2007 before May.

True also, plug-ins are building on the backs of both internal combustion vehicles and hybrids. Particularly with hybrids, these cars plowed the market soil for plug-ins to take root faster.

Hybrids taught a generation of first adopters about battery electrification, created a greater confidence in the technology that in 1997 was perceptibly new, and plug-ins build on lessons learned mechanically and in other ways.


Further, plug-ins in the U.S. were rolled out first to states where hybrids were adopted heaviest, several of these including those which follow California emission rules, not least being California itself.

Today’s so-called “compliance cars” are still clustered where their manufacturers get zero emission vehicle credits and where they hope to sell more than in states where electrified vehicles have had a tougher time being accepted.

Not to be forgotten either, regulations are pushing the move forward worldwide, and incentives have been more generous than for hybrids which were subsidized less during their first decade.

Leading Cars

The early leaders – the Volt and Leaf – are still ahead with Tesla catching up. Its Model S was launched mid 2012 and this vehicle has had phenomenal growth considering it costs 2-4 times what the Leaf or Volt do.

Despite plug-in buyers raking the Prius plug-in over the coals for having 11 miles EPA range, it is doing respectably worldwide, and it too was launched in 2012, later than the Volt which leads only by 26,000 counting Ampera sales for Opel/Vauxhall, and European Volts.


Number five is the car everyone stateside is waiting for from ailing Mitsubishi. The Outlander plug-in hybrid is like a Volt in all-wheel-drive SUV form, and we’re supposed to eventually get it here, though it’s been delayed several times.

Other vehicles in places 6-10 you may also be familiar with, though the BYD is not sold stateside, as also is the case for the Renaulty Zoe.

Top Selling Countries

The U.S. accounts for more than 35 percent of the one-million worldwide sales, though true also, a goal set in 2011 by President Obama for this country to singlehandedly have sold one million by this year will not be met, and the U.S. will finish 2015 with around 400,000.

SEE ALSO: European Plug-in Sales Leap Ahead of US For The First Time

Globally, things are picking up with new models being announced in concept and for production by most major manufacturers, and other nations are increasing their market share, though at the moment the U.S. is seeing flat growth.


In June reported European PEV sales surpassed the U.S. for the first time. Several overseas markets are on the rise, while formerly strong Japan has diminished more than 30 percent this year, and is showing increased interest in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Nations of note this year include China, the UK, France, Germany and Norway which all saw more than 50-percent year-over-year growth.

Of these, China and the UK have bought as many PEVs calendar year to date as they did in 2014.

China also is leading the world in changing its bus fleet and other heavy duty vehicles to plug-in power.

With tightening regulations, increasing momentum, more vehicles in the works, growing consumer awareness – and barring unforeseen issues – plug-in cars have staked a claim in the automative landscape that’s poised to increase.

Thanks to Mario R. Duran for research leading to this report.


Sep 15

Porsche signals it won’t let Tesla have all the fun forever


It’s only a concept but the Germans have discovered batteries, are doing more PHEVs, and an EV on this level is probably just a matter of when, not if.

Undoubtedly this won’t be price competitive with a Model S. Tesla aspires to Porsche like profits, but meanwhile, this looks nifty.

Wonder what the curb weight is …


Porsche has been progressively dipping its toes deeper into the water with electrification, and with the Mission E Concept, it dives right in.

The all-wheel-drive, four-wheel-steering electric sedan boasts 600 horsepower (440 kilowatts), 0-62 mph time of 3.5 seconds, 200 km/h in under 12 seconds, and Porsche says it can lap the Nurburgring Nordschleife in under 8 minutes.

Range is estimated at 500 kilometers (310 miles) on the NEDC cycle, roughly matching the Tesla Model S, depending on configuration.

“The drive system of the Mission E is entirely new, yet it is typical Porsche, i.e. proven in motor racing,” says the automaker. “Two permanently-excited synchronous motors (PSM) – similar to those used in this year’s Le Mans victor, the 919 hybrid – accelerate the sports car and recover braking energy. The best proof of a Porsche is 24 hours of top racing performance and a 1-2 finish.”

That means this is quick. The Nurburgring time is around one minute longer than a Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid hypercar, but one of the fastest times for a sedan, and faster than high-eight-minute times we’ve seen to date for a Tesla P85D, though that time may be reduced.


Seeking to top Tesla in other ways, the Porsche concept recharges its 800-volt drive system in just 15 minutes to 80-percent charge.

“Doubling the voltage – compared to today’s electric vehicles that operate at 400 volts – offers multiple advantages: shorter charging times and lower weight, because lighter, smaller gauge copper cables are sufficient for energy transport,” says Porsche.

Specifics on the high-power recharging system were not divulged, but Porsche cannot call it “Supercharging” since Tesla already owns that name, so this is called “Porsche Turbo Charging” for the double-the-voltage system.

Drivers will be able to charge with a conventional 400-volt quick-charging station, says the automaker, or of course, it may be plugged into level 2 or level 1 – wirelessly, at home via inductive charging.

The vehicle is otherwise promising no compromises for Porsche clientele with lithium-ion batteries low in the chassis comprised of aluminum, steel and carbon fiber.


“The battery mounted in the car’s underbody, which is based on the latest lithium-ion technology, runs the whole length between the front and rear axles,” says Porsche. “This distributes its weight to the two drive axles uniformly, resulting in exceptionally good balance. In addition, it makes the sports car’s centre of gravity extremely low.”

The body’s height is comparable to the 911, and the car rolls on carbon fiber wheels, 21-inch in front, 22-inch in back.

Inside, the future is now with a holographic display, eye-tracking technology and a mood tracker.

The car will know what gauge you are looking at by tracking your eyes and enables the driver to hit a button on the menu and access the gauge being focused upon.

Mounted to the rear view mirror is a camera mounted that enables the car to determine the driver’s moods and change a small emoticon on the corner of the mirror to mimic it.

Production plans have not been announced., full press release.


Sep 14

Light-filled Model X has panoramic windshield and rear skylights


This article got a bunch of interest on


Tesla wants its Model X to stand apart, and with a panoramic windshield and two side-by-side skylights over the second and third row, photos indicate this will happen.

Company head Elon Musk tweeted last week first deliveries of the all-wheel-drive seven-passenger crossover will be Sept. 29 at the Fremont, Calif. factory.

The automaker is however leaving many things unsaid, but members on the Tesla Motors Club Forum plus other info on the ‘Net have helped fill in some information gaps.

Adding to the already unusual “falcon wing” doors, a more predatory name for what at other times might be called “gull wing,” the windshield is unique among present-day U.S. vehicles.

A video of an unmasked blue Model X at a Supercharger in San Jose may be the clearest external views. Inside, the windshield may be seen in the black interior color sample Tesla provided to buyers permitted to configure their new X. Images of a white Model X show what is apparently a body color matched appliqué to mask the roof, but Tesla’s secret has otherwise been revealed.

Sneaky. White wrap masks the glass that continues into the roof.

Sneaky. White wrap masks the glass that continues into the roof.

Like the falcon wing doors, the windshield is not utterly new, and the idea has been effectively borrowed. Such a windshield is seen also in Europe on vehicles like the Vauxhall Astra GTC, and Citreon C3. (Note – they say falcon wings doors are called that because they have two hinges and splay less, but a Tesla rep did not answer this question).

“Panoramic” windshields were also seen from the ’40s onward with a wrap-around design in the horizontal plane, but the Tesla, Vauxhall, and Citreon designs are among those wrapping around in the vertical plane.

Comprised of one piece of glass and absent any metal cross member, the windshield lets the front seat occupants have an unimpeded view in front like a normal windshield, and directly over head.

Glass is tinted as it approaches visor level.

Glass is tinted as it approaches visor level.

The novel windshield basically forms a kind of sunroof. It does not appear to have provision to vent, and uncertain is sun protection, though what appears to be a visor is present.

Tesla will in due time reveal all, but forum commenters have offered speculation and even suggestions including for a technology such as Mercedes-Benz offers that could make the glass completely opaque or transparent at the push of a button, as shown below.

Hope that Tesla includes this has been expressed, but in an informal reader poll asking which people prefer, “X’s large windscreen vs S’s panoramic roof,” the X’s large windscreen is winning 66 to 20.

“I got to see the X windshield ‘IRL’ [in real life] at a supercharger. I thought it was WAY COOL. No, make that WAY, WAY COOL,” said Tesla Motors Club member roblab. “There is nothing like it that I know of. I bought my pano roof [on the Model S] for the view. The X windshield is way cooler. The view out the front windshield just doesn’t stop. Well, I like it. But I like the pano on my S. The X is different.”


Vauxhall Astra.

Vauxhall Astra.

What proprietary name Tesla will actually assign to the windshield also remains to be seen, and meanwhile in back, dual glass skylights – or whatever these may be officially called – are also evident in photos.

The result will likely be a light-filled effect, though whether any perceived downside comes along with is also an open question.

Some have said they prefer no sky view. Several have expressed concern over windshield replacement costs, and most agree insurance premiums better be paid up.

Apparently windshield wipers will swipe the usual frontal portion, and in precipitation, the rest of the glass into the roof section will be subject to whatever weather hits it.

Safety concerns over the lack of a rigid metal cross member have also been raised. Some have wondered if occupants would be as protected in a tip over, or if a large animal like a moose, deer, or other large object were frontally struck by the car.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Invites First Buyers To Configure Their Model X

These questions will probably be answered later this month along with others.

The Model X is expected to be priced from the 70s to mid 140s in premium trim. It is certainly a luxury car, and numerous design features throughout will add to the experience.

Tesla has over 30,000 Model X reservation holders. First deliveries are for the “Founder’s” edition models, and unclear is whether any also-elite Signature models will be handed over at the ceremony later this month, but thus far it appears not.

After the initial deliveries, the car is expected to be in regular production, ramping up, and the usual delivery process will be in effect.

And, then the media blitz predictably will follow, as will user write-ups, videos, and more for the electric family wagon unlike anything else.



Sep 11

Next-gen Volt production delayed to next spring as 2017 model year for 39 states


I spoke to two GM reps. Got some answers, and this story, one of them verified, is accurate. If there are more reasons for GM’s decision behind the scenes, I do not know, but some might think there are.

People like to conjecture, but remember there is a difference between pure guesswork or wishful thinking, versus speculation or analysis based on fact or unqualified evidence. With that said, have at it …


A rumor that Chevrolet was pushing back its nationwide production schedule for the next-generation Volt, and nixing the 2016 model year altogether for 39 states has been verified.

Chevrolet will as scheduled continue an ordering process for 2016 model year Volts that began in California in May, and later with 10 more states following its clean air rules. Revised plans now however call for Volt production to change over to 2017 early next year and to be offered to the rest of the country by early spring.

This was verified following interviews with GM media reps and a brief statement by the automaker describing the change of plans.

“Chevrolet has a shortened model year for the 2016 Chevy Volt that will have a limited distribution network,” said GM media rep Kevin Kelly reading a prepared statement. “The 2016 Volt will be sold in our strongest EREV markets. The 2017 Chevrolet Volt will begin production early this spring and will be available throughout the country.”

SEE ALSO: Has GM Postponed Nationwide Next-Gen Chevy Volt Production To Spring 2016?

The 11 ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) states that will get the 2016 model year Volt as planned are California, Connecticut, Massachussetts, Maryland , Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Not said in the statement is that 2016 model year production had been originally planned for the full nation beginning November with first deliveries following according to info supplied to Chevy dealers. Now 39 states that were due to get the Volt will have to wait a few more months, and will not be sold 2016 models.

On Saturday posted news of the rumor – explaining it was a rumor – and only a couple other publications that we saw also ran it, as it was based on images represented as supplied by Chevy dealers. We did so based on communications also with the head moderator at who is well connected, and he was now saying the photo appeared like it could be authentic. Turns out it was.

So, the Volt will be a 2017 by early spring. Whether this means March, April, or what month, GM could not confirm in an interview today.

This story began when certain known Volt-supporting dealers expressed disappointment on Facebook over short supplies of 2016s this fall, and a delay for most of the country to next year. Initially’s head moderator dismissed the story as unreliable, but this image changed things, and it does lend credibility to the belief that GM has quietly revised its plans for reasons known only to itself. Click image to enlarge.

This story began when certain known Volt-supporting dealers expressed disappointment on Facebook over short supplies of 2016s this fall, and a delay for most of the country to next year. Initially’s head moderator dismissed the story as unreliable, but this image changed things, and it does lend credibility to the belief that GM has quietly revised its plans for reasons known only to itself. Click image to enlarge.

Changes to the 2017 Volt are minor. Kelly could only confirm that the 2017 model year will have one new color from the Disney Tomorrowland feature of the Volt, Citron Green Metallic. And, adaptive cruise control and Android Auto will also be made available for 2017 model year Volts.

In a separate interview, Chevrolet rep Michelle Malcho was unable to confirm more changes, but it would appear unlikely anything with the powertrain will be updated, though this is not official.

Why the Updated Plans?

As for why the change in plans, Malcho said Chevrolet rethought its distribution plan based on past experience with the first-generation Volt in 2011.

The hope this time, she said, is to avoid frustrations, and ensure a smoother roll-out nationwide. The staged roll-out the first time around saw spotty allocations, customers and dealers wondering when they’d get their cars, and other issues.

“It was a learning experience, let’s put it that way,” said Malcho, and Chevrolet this time wants to focus on its key markets.

California alone in 2014 accounted for 50 percent of all plug-in electrified vehicle sales, and it has been the Volt’s core market. Other ZEV states as well are stronger, say, than Wyoming for example.

So, Malcho said Chevrolet will get the Volt to these core states, then focus on the 2017 model for them and the rest of the nation next spring.

“We’re going to do it really well in these 10 states then move on,” she said of 10 ZEV states plus California.

This also will give Chevrolet time to do more thorough dealer training in the states where the Volt does not now sell as strongly, she said.

The move, while not without precedent, is unusual, and there are other potential pros and cons.

A con, obviously, is many buyers outside the select ZEV states will have to wait perhaps a quarter year or longer to get the Volt. A pro might be owners will get nearly one year’s worth of model equity as a bonus. That is, they will have a 2017 model early in 2016. Hypothetically, someone could return a car after a one-year lease and it would still remain as current model year.

Those are two possible ways to look at things. Those considering the Volt obviously will have more things to consider.


Sep 10

Nissan offers 107 miles range for 2016 Leaf


No sooner does Toyota have news than Nissan decides it has news.


As the summer draws to a close, Nissan is announcing what was reported as likely late May, that the Leaf will come in two trim levels offering 107-mile range.

Actually, the report then said around 105 estimated miles, and spot on was the advance notice that a new 30-kwh lithium-ion battery would be offered.

2016 Nissan Leaf Could Have Over 105 Miles Range

The two versions which will receive this new battery occupying the same space are the SV and SL. The S model will retain the pre-existing 24-kwh battery for 84 miles EPA estimated range.

Going out with a Bang

This will also be the first time two different batteries and range options are offered for the Leaf.

The Leaf was launched Dec. 2010 and while Nissan did not say so in advance press materials, it is believed this will be the last year for the best-selling EV before a next-generation Leaf with even more range is introduced.

2016 Nissan LEAF

107 miles is 23 more than before.

Globally, Nissan has sold around 200,000 Leafs. In EV sales terms, this is a smash hit, though more bullish projections made earlier on were clipped back.

As the second-generation 2016 Chevy Volt with 53 miles EV range is also due this year, Nissan is upping its game to increase competitiveness, and prior to a 200-plus-mile range battery believed pending for 2017.

S=Standard. O=Optional.

S=Standard. O=Optional.

The new 30-kwh battery comes along with updates to trim and infotainment, but this is still a generation-one Leaf.

SEE ALSO: What Do We Know About the 2017 Nissan Leaf?

As for the 30-kwh battery, Nissan says it has improved the structure of the laminated lithium-ion battery cells. This includes improved electrode material and a “revised” chemistry with higher power density along with enhanced durability following charging and discharging.

The 30 kwh battery’s modules contain eight newly designed cells per module (192 cells total). This contrsts with the 24 kwh battery which is composed of four cells per module (192 cells total).


Nissan says the thin, compact laminated cells offer more packaging flexibility and design applications. Weight for the 30 kwh battery pack is just 46 pounds more.

“The new battery offers more advantages than just the 27 percent increase in driving range – it also offers improved battery performance,” said Andrew Speaker, director, Nissan EV Sales & Marketing, Nissan North America, Inc. “Nissan has been a leading developer of lithium-ion battery technology for more than 20 years. The new Leaf battery is a great example of how rather than just increasing battery capacity, we’ve achieved a balance between capacity, packaging, durability and affordability.”

No changes to the thermal management system have been made, and notably absent on the Leaf compared to other EVs is liquid cooling. Practically, this won’t matter for a short-term lease, but buyers who like to drive a car till the wheels fall off, as the saying goes, may have more to be concerned about, though Nissan stresses warranty protection.

As for charging, several options as before are available. Standard is a charge port light and lock, and beyond level 1 and 2, the S has optionally available DC Quick charging, and this is standard on the SV and SL.

The SV and SL grades include a 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger. At 240 volts, recharge to 100 percent in about six hours. This charger is optionallty available with the S, and standard is a 3.6 kilowatt onboard charger.

Unchanged is the core front-wheel-drive, single-speed powertrain comprised of a 80-kilowatt AC synchronous motor. This is rated for 107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque.

The range increase is also the second increase for the Leaf. Model years 2011-2012 were rated 73 miles, and when U.S. production began in 2013, the Leaf’s existing battery was tweaked for more range.

Infotainment Updates

NissanConnect comes standard on S models with a 5.0-inch color display.

The updated SV and SL grades add NissanConnect with Navigation, Mobile Apps and other functions.

A 7.0-inch color display is included with multi-touch control, along with Nissan Voice Recognition for navigation and audio, HD radio, and Sirius Travel Link for weather, fuel prices, movie listings, stock info and sports (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately).


Now charging screen information is automatically updated every time the ignition is turned on after every 12 miles of driving.

“The enhancements to the 2016 Leaf in terms of graphic interface design and user friendliness are significant,” added Speaker. “We’ve listened to our owners and added features they can use every day, such as the automatic updating of charging stations while driving and one-shot destination entry with voice recognition.”

Keeping its Edge While Looking Ahead

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has said the company will be ready to compete also with the 200-plu-mile Chevy Bolt when that car comes along. Also due is the Tesla Model 3 in 2017.

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED Has Range Extension Option

In the mean time, this is the first EV in this price category Nissan says to offer a full 100-plus-mile range.

Others that come arguably close are the Mercedes B-Class Electric starting in the low 40s and which with auxiliary battery power can offer around 104 miles, and the Kia Soul EV is rated 93 miles.

Pricing for the base S level is $29,010 as before and the new SV and SL trim levels will fetch between $1,600 to $2,100 more than a 2015 SV’s $32,100 and the SL’s $35,120.








Sep 09

Toyota reveals 2016 Prius


I’m heading back from Vegas. This is written to a mainstream audience. Please understand I know the many pros and cons of the Volt vs. Prius. Don’t mean to omit detail, but do mean to keep word count reasonable.

We only get a new Prius once every six years or so, so I figured this was not too off topic. Stay tuned for the fifth-gen Prius reveal here on GM-Volt in 2022.

Prius_01aThe alternative-energy car market is rapidly evolving, and to keep its fourth-generation 2016 Prius relevant, Toyota has “reimagined” it with 10-percent improved fuel economy and more sporting prowess than before.

Toyota is not publishing the exact mpg estimates just yet, saying it awaits EPA certification, but 10 percent would work out to 56 mpg city, 53 mpg highway, 55 mpg compared to today’s Prius Liftback rated 51 city, 48 highway, 50 combined.

And that’s not the end of it. Waiting in the wings is also a more-efficient “Eco” Prius model with as-of-yet undisclosed capabilities. Toyota is saying next to nothing about this, but it may utilize lithium-ion batteries and other tweaks for marginal improvements. The carmaker says we won’t have long to wait to hear more about it however.

“A soon-to-be unveiled Eco model will achieve an even greater improvement, strengthening Toyota’s leadership in hybrid fuel efficiency,” says Toyota.

What about the Prius plug-in hybrid? No word on that one yet, but it may be shown next year. If however what turned out to be relatively accurate and possibly pirated info in July pans out as correct, its all-electric range may be more than twice what it is today.

The report said by Japan’s JC08 standard it gets 50 kilometers range (31 miles). If true, this could be in the 20s under EPA. We shall see whether this is true, but if so, it could significantly revive its appeal and global sales since 2012 as of May were at 71,000 and may be in the 80,000 range now. That updated car may also have styling and headlight differences.

Meanwhile, last night’s event was just an overview of the core Prius.

Broadened Appeal

Now approaching six years since the present Prius Liftback was launched in the U.S. in 2010, and 16 years since the first Prius in 2000, the world’s best-selling green car aims to keep and even expand its position into the next decade.

Toyota knows it must sharpen its act in the face of stiffening competition, and to offset perceived tarnish in the eyes of some plug-in fans. The most die-hard have begun to migrate to plug-ins – though these also come with their own pros and cons, and the Prius’ 55 mpg all the time should help. This, along with its established reputation are laurels Toyota is counting on to see it through.

Not that it’s at much of a deficit, really. The unsubsidized Prius Liftback sells 120,000-145,000 annually in the U.S. when the highest-selling plug-in hybrids haven’t done that in five years while subsidized. The Chevy Volt for example is just now crossing 100,000 units globally since its December 2010 launch.

It’s hard therefore to argue with sales success as the Prius has transcended niche status into mainstream. But, there is only so much one can do, apparently, to squeak out more mpg gains from a gas-burning system.

So, rather than trying to beat plug-in cars in ways it cannot – like run on electricity more than a mile or so at 25 mph – Toyota is broadening its appeal while giving as much more mpg as is possible within the laws of physics – or its engineers’ capabilities.

Seven colors include an all-new ” Hypersonic Red.” This new color “utilizes a newly developed treatment process, which results in a deep and vibrant luster highlighting the external forms,” says Toyota.

Seven colors include an all-new ” Hypersonic Red.”
This new color “utilizes a newly developed treatment process, which results in a deep and vibrant luster highlighting the external forms,” says Toyota.

Also true is that this hybrid’s fuel efficiency still reigns supreme above all plug-in hybrids when they are only operating in hybrid mode, and without reliance on their larger batteries for propulsion. The 2016 Chevy Volt for example is rated 42 mpg in charge sustaining mode, but buyers of that car with 53 mile all-electric range aim to stay off gas altogether.

To be sure, it’s a trade-off, though here is where fans of respective technologies start to debate what is the most effective solution.

For its part, Toyota stresses the strengths it has, including its environmental contributions to date and ongoing. The higher volume of relatively gas-miserly hybrids it sells to stave off gasoline usage and greenhouse emissions does add up. Globally, 3.5 million Prii have been sold, and eight million Toyota and Lexus hybrids have been sold.

And now for 2016, Toyota is augmenting its known deficits. In sum, the Prius is a car that some performance enthusiasts love to hate for its plain vanilla sporting credentials.


To remedy that, the fun-to-drive quotient has been reportedly been ratcheted up with a revised chassis with double wishbone rear suspension, and stiffer platform. This is the first Toyota to feature the modular Toyota New Global Architecture.

Styling has also been rethought to create a car that’s all-around capable while retaining core competencies.

“Prius set the global benchmark for hybrids, but now is breaking its own boundaries with more engaging style and fun-to-drive dynamics,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. “What was once a rational purchase that for many customers focused on fuel economy, is now so much more. This Prius will invite new drivers into the category by delivering an impressive look and feel, built on the foundation of safety and ecoconsciousness that define the vehicle’s heritage.”

Limited Information

Festivities in a lavish launch ceremony in Las Vegas tonight were replete with food, music, drink, and just enough data on the new car to whet the appetite.

The powertrain for example may have a 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle engine mixed with motor generators, but that level of granularity was not disclosed in Toyota’s initial media information it provided.

As miscellaneous unofficial reports have suggested for the past two years, Toyota verifies in saying the updated hybrid is better where it counts.


“Today’s consumers expect environmental credentials, and the new Prius delivers. Smaller, lighter hybrid system components, higher-energy density in the batteries, and an internal combustion engine touting ground-breaking thermal efficiency (more than forty percent), contribute to a significant advancement in fuel economy,” says the automaker.

Want more powertrain detail? That is all Toyota chose to reveal. And besides, “it’s not just about MPG anymore,” says Toyota.

“Toyota upgraded the Prius inside and out to deliver the complete package – emotional styling, smarter technology and impressive MPG, in a vehicle that’s more fun to drive than ever,” it says.


Today’s green car designers must be thinking in anthropomorphist terms, as like Chevrolet and its Volt, the Prius is inspired by human endurance athletes ready to run. Do you see it?

In plain automotive terms, the Prius is is 2.4 inches longer, 0.6 inches wider and 0.8 inches lower. Sheet metal includes character lines sweeping along the sides, a lower spoiler, revised lights front and back, and updated profile.

The hood is now low, and the badge is the same height as the Scion FR-S sports car, while the roof peak is moved forward.


A lot of rhetoric has already gone forth by folks online commenting about off-angle photos and drawings, saying the Prius is not all that fetching, but we don’t agree with the harshest critics saying Toyota beat it with an ugly stick, but of course everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Ours is it’s not a bad looking car in real life; it’s sharper, more contemporary, inside and out, and we are looking forward to seeing how it drives.

Inside, a driver-centric “premium” interior merges advanced tech, expansive layout, functional controls, and form-fitting seats that “hug” the front occupants.


Underpinning it all is the Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). The idea is reduced production costs while making for a better car.

Toyota integrates development for powertrain components and vehicles are being grouped to promote strategic sharing of components with the goal of improving resource efficiency by better than twenty percent.

Toyota says resources will be directed into developing advanced technologies, and most importantly even further strengthening product appeal.

That’s all well and good, but what this means for consuemrs is lower center of gravity, more responsive suspension, stiffer chassis, and better driving excitement.

“From winding mountain roads to the wide boulevards downtown, the new Prius stays connected to the road, without sacrificing ride quality and occupant comfort,” says Toyota.


Designed in as well are new safety technologies to complement the stiffer body that is said to do better in a crash.


The Prius will also be among the

first U.S. cars Toyota offers to come with Toyota Safety Sense (TSS), a new safety package centered around automated pre-collision braking.

Bundled in with TSS are 1) Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Avoidance; 2) Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist; 3) Full-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control; 4) Automatic High Beams

Onward and Upward

Drive opportunities were not offered in this first unveiling and teaser.

Toyota had pushed back this reveal a bit to make sure it gets it right, and has heavily emphasized this car builds on existing strengths while adding new competencies.

Pricing has not been announced, and the car will go on sale in the U.S. early next year.

We expect more info soon.

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