Toyota Prius E-Four 4

The fourth-generation Toyota Prius is one of the most renowned hybrid cars in the world today. While it scores points in terms of fuel efficiency, its new avantgarde design will undoubtedly be the first topic to come to mind. But what innovative inspiration prompted this new styling? Well, the answer it seems, lies in aerodynamics and Lady Gaga, Automotive News reports.

Shunsaku Kodama, chief designer of the Toyota Prius said earlier blueprints were overruled as too “soft and organic” by the chief designer’s boss. In that, the mission was laid out: to give the Prius more emotion, to make it sexy whilst maintaining its eco-DNA. “As a concept, we were thinking Lady Gaga. We wanted to be more extreme in our design,” he revealed.

Based on internal studies, Toyota found that since the Prius first launched in 1997, less and less found the succeeding generation’s design new and sophisticated. With that, Kodama stated that he wanted to bring back the futuristic, exciting and advanced aura and push it even further. Hence, Lady Gaga was this source of inspiration.

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As a result, the Prius took on two design tracks, one was an organic, human feel, while the other was a futuristic direction. That wasn’t the end of it though – during the final stages of the blueprints, Mitsuhisa Kato, executive vice president however, decided to “correct” the design course of Kodama’s human styling for the Prius, stating that it was “best to err on techy.”

This led to the Prius’ current look, with a sharp front face, headlights and hood and edging rear lamps, the rear spoiler and such. In addition to that, Kodama noted that another major factor that needed to be taken into consideration was the aerodynamics of the new Prius – it needed to produce better drag coefficient (Cd) figures than its predecessor.

Furthermore, the design team wanted to keep the triangular silhouette of the Prius, but at the same time the high point of the roof needed to be brought forward as far as it possibly could to reduce drag. Doing so however, would see two issues emerge: no triangular shape and little rear headroom. “The hardest issue was trying to keep the triangular silhouette,” Kodama said.

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Eventually, a solution was brought forward by engineers. A thinner roof with curved ceiling sections to give more headroom and new mounts for the car’s batteries beneath the rear seats, enabled them to be lower. The roof apex could then be brought forward by 170 mm, while the triangular shape was enhanced by lowering the rear spoiler by 55 mm and the hood by 60 mm.

In other places, a new rain gutter was placed along the A-pillar, “Aerocorners” before the front wheels and in the back. A rounded rear window also played a part in providing better aerodynamics. All of this allowed the Prius to achieve a lower 0.24 Cd compared to 0.25 Cd in the third-generation Prius.

The company is expected to give the design concept its very own name as well, “Iconic Human-tech.” “We have to create a new value, something completely different from our competitors and other environmental vehicles,” Kodama concluded of the new Prius’ design.


GALLERY: Toyota Prius E-Four at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show