It has been officially confirmed that the next-generation Toyota Prius will adopt the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), while advances in battery, electric motor and petrol engine technology will secure better fuel economy, reduced emissions and lower costs from a smaller, lighter and more efficient hybrid powertrain system.
Toyota looks to improve upon its average CO2 emissions reduction of 10% over each of the Prius’ three generations so far (from 114 g/km to today’s 89 g/km). The next Prius will use smaller electric motors, but with a higher power density. The current model’s motors have four times the power density of the original Prius’ in 1997, and the improvement will be higher still in the next one.
Regarding the batteries, they too will shrink in size but grow in energy density. Toyota is currently ramping up its research, development and production capacity for both nickel metal-hydride and lithium-ion technologies, while studying future alternatives of solid state, lithium-air as well as magnesium and other low-valence materials.
The thermal efficiency of the petrol engine will be boosted too, from 38.5% currently to a world-best of more than 40%. There will still be two versions of the Prius: a standard full hybrid model and a plug-in hybrid option. The latter is now developed in parallel with the former, and promises better all-electric driving range and a more convenient charging solution, i.e. a wireless/inductive charger.
TNGA, meanwhile, is Toyota’s new highly flexible and scalable platform, similar in execution to the Volkswagen Group’s MQB architecture. The next Prius will debut the new base, which will eventually be rolled out across various Toyota and Lexus models (from the Yaris supermini to the next Camry – SUVs included – reports say).
In the fourth-generation Prius, the use of TNGA promises a lower centre of gravity and greater structural rigidity, contributing to “greatly improved” driving dynamics. The interior will also be larger, with a more refined design, layout and ease of use, while the exterior is said to feature all-new styling – harnessed with aerodynamic performance in mind.