Auto Shows


While this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit fe­atured many notable concept and production vehicle world debuts, the 2010 Toyota Prius garnered a considerable amount of media attention. Touting an improved 50 ­mpg rating, up from the previous iteration’s 46 mpg rating, Toyota continues to stake its reputation as an industry innovator on the economical gasoline-electric hybrid. And really, why not?

With more than 1 million units sold in 44 countries, Toyota would be hard pressed to reinvent the success of its best-selling hybrid. That is precisely why the third-generation Prius features subtle exterior re­styling backed by a surplus of technological fine-tuning. Toyota believes the silhouette of the vehicle is iconic, something they would be foolish to tamper with. So instead, the focus was directed at content and, of course, major sales growth.

“The features and performance of the new midsize Prius that you’ll see in a few moments are superior to anything we have ever built,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager, before the reveal. “And along with building a better car, we will make it available in more places. We plan to sell this new Prius in 80 countries worldwide, nearly twice as many as today. Depending on market conditions, our global sales objective will be about 400,000 units per year by 2010. That will put Prius near the top of our best-selling vehicles around the world along with Camry and Corolla.”

To appeal to a larger base of prospective drivers, and no doubt cement its reputation as a leader in hybrid-vehicle technology, Toyota has loaded the 2010 Prius with a host of new features.

For starters, the powertrain has been reworked to include a larger displacement 1.8-L four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. Running on the Atkinson cycle, the engine produces 98 hp (73 kW) at 5200 rpm with 105 lb·ft (142 N·m) of torque. In addition, use of an electric water pump and a new exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system are engineered to enhance fuel economy. The 1.8-L engine features reduced maintenance requirements and provides better performance, with the Prius capable of reaching 60 mph (97 km/h) from rest in 9.8 s, according to Toyota.

Though the new Prius has the same wheelbase as the current generation, it features an all-new platform. Overall length is slightly increased by 0.6 in (15 mm), partly a result of moving the front cowl forward. The suspension consists of front struts and a rear intermediate beam design, as before, but handling stability has been upgraded by improving the stabilizer layout, raising the caster angle, and tuning the bushing characteristics. Disc brakes are used on all four corners, replacing the front disc/rear drum brakes currently used.

Rounding out the package are a host of added technologies: Intelligent Parking Assist, like that available on the Lexus LS460; a standard moonroof with solar panels that power a separate ventilation system; Power, Eco, and EV driving modes; and steering-wheel touch controls that display on the instrument panel. The radar-based dynamic cruise control system features lane-departure warning. A backup monitor, voice-activated navigation system, and Safety Connect, Toyota’s version of OnStar, are also available.

Matthew Newton SAE


DETROIT – Toyota Motor Corp. said Saturday it is confirming plans to have an all-electric vehicle on U.S. roads by 2012 by introducing an ultra-compact battery-powered concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Toyota calls the FT-EV, based on the ultra-compact iQ model on sale in Japan, an “urban dweller” with a range of 50 miles. Although there’s no guarantee it will go into production in its current form, it illustrates the company’s product strategies.

“Last summer’s $4-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly,” said Irv Miller, vice president of Toyota Motor Sales USA. “It was a brief glimpse of our future. We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel.”

The FT-EV marks Toyota’s deepest foray yet into non-gasoline vehicles and comes as a challenge to competitors like General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which are rushing to roll out alternatives to gasoline cars.

GM says it plans to have the highly anticipated Chevrolet Volt in showrooms by 2010. The rechargeable gas-electric car is expected to travel 40 miles on electricity alone, then a gasoline engine kicks in to extend its range.

Chrysler, meanwhile, unveiled three electric car prototypes last year — a Dodge sports car, a Jeep Wrangler and a Chrysler minivan, and said it plans to put one of the three on sale next year.

In addition to the FT-EV, Toyota said it is expanding its offering of hybrid cars by launching as many as 10 new hybrid models by early next decade in markets around the world. It also said it will start global delivery of 500 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids powered by lithium-ion batteries later this year, instead of in 2010 as originally planned. Of those, 150 will go to U.S. lease and fleet customers.

Hybrids like the Prius currently run on heavier, weaker nickel-metal hydride batteries, and they recharge through energy captured from the vehicle’s braking.

Toyota said electric vehicles like the FT-EV and new smaller vehicles like the iQ will be a key component of the Japanese automaker’s environmentally conscious strategy, but the conventional gas-electric hybrid, like the Prius, is considered the company’s long-term core powertrain technology.

Toyota is set to unveil its 2010 Prius hybrid and a Lexus hybrid called the HS250h at the Detroit auto show, which starts Sunday with three days of media previews. The show opens to the public Jan. 17-25.

From: Yahoo news

Do you think the world is ready for a premium subcompact car with excellent fuel efficiency? Audi certainly does. That’s why the Ingolstadt company has developed the A1 Sportback, a concept plug-in hybrid model just unveiled at the Paris motor show. At 157 inches long, the 4-door 4-seat A1 is about a five inches shorter than a Honda Fit, to give you an idea of its size.

Yes, that’s small. And yes, the car is related to the 3-door Audi A1 design study from 2007. But the new 5-door A1 Sportback has a higher body with tauter lines that give it a much more muscular look. The boxy shape translates to loads of interior space, with a sporty dashboard wrapping around to blend attractively into the door panels. The seats, of note, are covered in a clear mesh-like fabric that accentuates the airiness of the interior.

Adding to the A1 Sportback’s appeal is an advanced infotainment system that allows a driver to use a commercially available mobile phone as the car’s phone, address book, nav system and audio player. It can also be used to control several of the car’s numerous vehicle systems. All it takes is some additional software that’s downloadable from Audi. The A1 Sportback driver, for example, can now plot a driving route in the comfort of his home, long before he or she even needs to get in the car. On the mechanical side of things, Audi’s drive select system allows the driver to pick specially adapted configurations for the drivetrain, twin-clutch transmission and magnetic-ride shock absorbers.

Most important, the A1 Sportback has a super-efficient hybrid powertain, in which a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine is aided by a 20-kw (27-hp) electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission. As a plug-in full hybrid capable of running at times purely on power provided by the lithium-ion batteries, this compact Audi is 30 percent more efficient than an A1 powered solely by the gasoline engine.

According to Audi, that means the A1 Sportback gets 60.31 mph in mixed-mode driving. Let’s hope this compact Audi hybrid — or something very like it — makes its way to the U.S. soon.

from yahoo news