A hybrid system combines different power sources to maximize each one’s strengths, while compensating for each other’s shortcomings. A gasoline-electric hybrid system, for example, combines an internal combustion engine’s high-speed power with the clean efficiency and low-speed torque of an electric motor that never needs to be plugged in for recharging.
Toyota is working to not only further enhance the convenience of its vehicles but is also focusing its initiatives on solving global environmental issues through a variety of activities and proposals for realizing sustainable mobility. The development of powertrain technology is the basis for improving the environmental performance of vehicles, and this technology is being developed from three perspectives: 1) improving fuel efficiency in order to reduce CO2 emissions, 2) making exhaust emissions cleaner to help abate atmospheric pollution, and 3) pursuing energy diversification.
Toyota strives, in its move towards energy diversification, to provide the necessary vehicle at the time and place it is needed, i.e. the right vehicle at the right time and in the right place. In addition, Toyota is actively developing hybrid technology to serve as a core technology applicable to all powertrains.
Toyota’s mission has always been to provide clean and safe products. Thus, the company has positioned the environment as one of its most important issues and has been working toward creating a prosperous society and a world that is comfortable to live in. With this goal in mind, Toyota has been actively developing various new technologies from the perspective of achieving energy security and diversifying energy sources, which is necessitated by the dwindling supply of petroleum resources.
For example, in motive power sources for automobiles alone, we have been continuously improving conventional engines and have developed and commercialized lean-burn gasoline engines, direct injection gasoline engines and common rail direct-injection diesel engines, etc. We have also been modifying engines so that they can use alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG), instead of gasoline or light oil, and have been installing these engines in commercially sold vehicles.
Toyota has also developed and has been marketing electric vehicles (EV) that use motors for the driving source; hybrid vehicles (HV) that combine an engine and a motor, fusing the advantages of these two power sources; fuel cell hybrid vehicles (FCHV) that use fuel cells (FC) to generate electricity based on a chemical reaction between hydrogen and the oxygen in the air and that supply this electricity to electric motors to produce driving power.
In January 1997, Toyota declared the start of the Toyota Eco Project. As part of this effort, Toyota decided to tackle the international challenge of reducing CO2 emissions in order to prevent global warming and accelerated the development of a hybrid vehicle with the goal of achieving twice the fuel efficiency of conventional vehicles. Then, in March of the same year, Toyota announced the completion of a new power train called the Toyota Hybrid System (THS) for use in passenger vehicles.
This power train combines a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and because it does not require external charging, as do existing electric vehicles, it works within existing infrastructures such as fueling facilities. This system also achieves nearly twice the fuel efficiency of conventional gasoline engines.
THS was installed in the passenger vehicle Prius, which was introduced in December 1997 in the Japanese market as the first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle in the world. In 2000, overseas marketing of the Prius began. The Prius has gained a reputation as a highly innovative vehicle, and its cumulative worldwide sales have exceeded 110,000 units.
Meanwhile, THS has continued to evolve, and in 2001, THS-C, which combines THS with CVT (continuously variable transmission), was installed in the Estima Hybrid minivan and THS-M (a mild hybrid system) was installed in the Crown, luxury sedan, both for the Japanese market thereby contributing greatly to innovations in the automobiles of the 21st century.
Building on the ecology-focused THS, Toyota has developed the concept of Hybrid Synergy Drive. Based on this concept, Toyota has developed a new-generation Toyota hybrid system called THS II, which achieves high levels of compatibility between environmental performance and power by increasing the motor output by 1.5 times, greatly boosting the power supply voltage and achieving significant advances in the control system, aiming for synergy between motor power and engine power.
Toyota has positioned hybrid technology as its key technology. Beginning with the development of EVs and through the commercialization of HVs and FCHVs, its continued efforts have now culminated in the development of THS II. Toyota will continue to endeavor to make technical advances in this area.
The Prius embodies Toyota’s motto, “Moving Forward.” They designed the Prius to be a step up in the car world, rather than a step toward awkwardness, as I would expect from any environmentally conscious car. The car looks and feels special. People notice the difference in appearance and realize that the whole motivation for the car is different.
The people have cried out for relief from rising gas prices. They have sought after something that doesn’t destroy the environment. Toyota has answered the people with their gas/electric hybrid, the Prius.
The Prius gets an average of 45 mpg in the city as well as on highways. People with lead feet complain that this car gives them no better gas mileage then a regular car, but this is because gas usage depends very much on the driver, how he or she works the gas pedal. The driver can ensure the best possible gas mileage by watching the screen mounted on the dashboard.
It is disputable whether or not additional cost for the hybrid technology is worth the money saved in gas expenditure. The car costs at least five thousand more than the average Toyota sedan to begin with. Then there is an additional seven to eight thousand dollar cost when the battery wears out. The battery’s warrantee comes to an end after one hundred thousand miles.
The car is trim and slim, easy to fit into small spaces. Unfortunately, the leg room is a bit wanting for the driver’s side in particular. I don’t understand why they didn’t allow the front seats to slide back any further. This is one of the few misgivings I have about the Prius.
So would you rather give your money to gas companies who are deliberately raising gas prices because they know there is nothing you can do about it, or would you rather support Toyota who is putting forth effort to give you a choice in the matter? Assuming I’ll break even in car payments vs. gas prices, I would rather support Toyota.
Toyota’s Prius also includes keyless entry and push button start. As long as the key is in your pocket, the car will sense this and unlock the car. Same thing goes for starting the car. As long as the key is in your pocket, just push the button and the car will start. The keyless key also makes it impossible to lock your keys in the car.