Toyota unveils next-generation hybrid concept
Toyota says its NS4 concept, unveiled here this morning, represents a dedicated plug-in hybrid “separate from the Prius family,” but as a mid-sized vehicle, its footprint is basically the same as the existing Prius.
The NS4 features a next-generation hybrid system with smaller and lighter components, and with better fuel economy and greater range in pure-electric mode, Toyota says.
In a statement, the automaker did not say if the NS4 powertrain would maintain the nickel-metal hydride battery pack or evolve to the newer lithium ion pack favored by many automakers in their most recent vehicles.
Tokuo Fukuichi, head of design for Toyota Motor Corp, said Toyota is considering a new platform for the next-generation Prius.
He said the current generation has a relatively high center of gravity. But lowering the engine location and cowl point presents a difficult engineering challenge.
Yoshihiro Sawa, Toyota’s advanced design director, said the Prius’ triangle shape will be maintained with a new vehicle.
He believes current green vehicle designs are “boring and a compromise,” and wants to see Toyota inject emotion into the hybrid vehicle segment with more exciting styling.
Inside, the NS4 will use a multitouch screen that reduces driver distraction.
In addition to telematics functions, the screen will learn driver preferences and habits to anticipate driver responses in specific environments and situations.