Toyota To Super-Size Gas Engine In Next Hybrid Model?

Not-So-Pious Prius: Toyota Looking To Super-Size Gas Engine In Next Hybrid Model?
According to a report from the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shibun, ToMoCo
is looking to bring a new hybrid-only model for the 'merican market. According to the newsmag's sources, it's expected be a midsize sedan with a 2.5- to 3-liter engine, larger than the 1.5-liter the Prius currently uses to putz around. The plan, apparently, is to add this new model to the already-on-the-market hybrid lineup alongside its pipsqueak brother. So what's the deal? Why is Toyota looking to boost both size and fuel consumption? According to Asahi and Toyota, the Prius is the most popular hybrid model in the US because Americans want to be seen while being green. So, even if a new-gen Prius is less green than the one on the market, the name cachet is enough to make 'em sell like hotcakes. Hmm -- higher sales of gas-guzzling SUV's, a new Tundra ton-o-fun pickup, image coming first and now cutting fuel efficiency to expand market share -- ToMoCo's becoming more and more like the 'merican manufacturers it's replacing on the sales ladder every day. – Ray Wert
Toyota to roll out new line of hybrids [Asahi.com via AutoblogGreen]
nweaver says:
Well, its a clear lesson. The Civic Hybrid, except for not being a hatchback, is better than the prius: Cheaper, same mileage, same power, simpler design, etc etc etc.
But the bling SELLS, and the Prius is Bling Bling Bling.
What I'd expect is it to be based on the Camry Hybrid, but significantly different in body shape (probably a low-drag hatch like the Prius, its a useful form factor and good for efficiency too) and interior, just as the EX lexus is based on the Camry.
Thus it would have all the benefits of being a "new" car, without being a new platform and able to be built on the existing Camry lines.
12/29/06 11:20 AM joelja says:
Well... So I'm sure the lexus gs450h is selling fine... The accord hybrid isn't doesn't so great though. Maybe there's a market for performance hybrids... I can't imagine that that market for middle to high trim cars that get decent mileage has been exhausted yet.
Most people who can afford to, would prefer not to drive around in something that looks like an economy beer can in search of better mileage... frankly today's "economy cars" don't offer decent mileage anyway (gm aveo, suzuki reno anyway)...
I ended up going with a civic hybrid on the premise that I couldn't stand to wait for a prius, and couldn't stand to have the next car not get ~40Mpg (by in large it does). Ok so engine displacement isn't going to excite the tuner crowd (1.3l), it's going to look silly with a coffee can sized exhaust, especially since it shuts off at stop lights. but overall it's a decent if not exciting car.
12/29/06 11:30 AM carsinamerica says:
What's the problem here? Toyota will still sell the Prius (and they've already said that they want the next-gen Prius to be more economical than the current one), they just want to add an efficient vehicle that's more of a classic upper midsize vehicle. I'm not entirely sure that they need a dedicated model when they've already got the Camry Hybrid, but good for them for focusing on a larger green-machine and retaining the Prius, too. This way they'll have more than a one-size-fits-all dedicated hybrid. Maybe this even means that the next Prius will shrink slightly, back into the compact realm. I don't find it anywhere near as sinister as Wert suggests. "Why is Toyota looking to boost both size and fuel consumption?" They AREN'T. They're trying to decrease consumption for larger vehicles. How shamelessly corporate of them.
12/29/06 12:02 PM Ray Wert says:
carsinamerica -- Toyota is still a company that looks to profit-maximize. I'm not imbuing it with "sinister motives", I just don't choose to believe that they're doing this to "decrease consumption for larger vehicles." Mainly it's because I know that at the same time as they sell the Prius for next to no profits, the largest percentage of gains in their profits are coming on the backs of increased sales of SUV's and trucks, many of which aren't as fuel-efficient size-for-size as the competition. They're not trying to decrease consumption for larger vehicles -- rather, it's as the article suggests -- they're seeing a market for a vehicle and going after it.
They are boosting size because it's what people want and it's decreasing fuel consumption because that's what increasing size does. That's not sinister -- that's the nature of the beast. ToMoCo's a company and it wants to make money -- as companies are want to do.
12/29/06 12:16 PM tonsoffun says:
I thought the Prius was already considered a mid-size. Those things aint small...
12/29/06 01:12 PM grzydj says:
I think that's pretty disingenuous Ray. It sounds like Toyota is responding to consumers need for more POWER POWER POWER. Everything has to have more power, even little green machines.
The second generation Prius had more power than the first, it was larger and it get better fuel economy than the first gen. Like everything in the car industry, it has to become larger, and more powerful the next time around, regardless if it counters the idea of what a green car should be.
12/29/06 01:17 PM br549 says:
nweaver: Have you ridden in a Civic Hybrid? The drivetrain is messed up. It makes this weird groaning noise as it shuffles between charging and discharging and other modes. It's noticeably from the front seat and very obvious in the back.
At this time, the Civic can't match the Prius for refinement.
I don't get this new car. It's just a Camry Hybrid, isn't it? I know that hybrids are not selling well in the larger sizes. Has Toyota concluded this is because they don't have the correct name on the side? I would beg to differ.
joelja: There are three Lexus hybrids, and I don't know that any of them are selling particularly well. I'd say the biggest seller is the RX400h, for what it matters. I've never seen the other two at all. And in my area, Priuses seem to make up 10% of the cars on the road at times.
The more I read this stuff, the more I believe GM's "mild hybrid" strategy is a good one. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't remove the Prius from the market. But a large portion of the populace just will never be in the market for a car where they have to sacrifice a lot of style, size or money to get a hybrid. If mild hybrid systems can be installed for $650 (like on the Saturn VUE), maybe it can increase the installed base of hybrids and thus reduce oil usage further.
12/29/06 01:29 PM Ray Wert says:
grzydj -- it is true ToMoCo is responding to the desire for more "POWER POWER POWER." There's a huge segment of the population that wants a hybrid in a larger size -- and ToMoCo wants to appeal to that segment of the market. If they were merely upgrading the current Prius I would say you're correct -- but from what the article said, it's going to be an addition to the lineup. That means they are continuing to offer a lower-powered gas engine for the current model, and offering a higher-powered gas engine for another model -- they aren't replacing the old one.
My argument is Toyota's a company like any other -- they found a niche marketing tool, and they're using it. Now they want to make money on it (or at least more than they're currently making), and the way you do that is to expand into other, more-profitable segments -- like larger vehicles, which by definition are more fuel-inefficient.
If Toyota was the "Hi, I'm green, and that's my a priori goal!" manufacturer many paint it as -- it would only make the Prius, and that's it.
tonsoffun -- try sitting in the back seat of one. Those batteries take up a lot of room.
12/29/06 01:44 PM iamjames says:
I was reading this and thinking "isn't this what the new hybrid Camry is?" until i got to this line: "...Prius is the most popular hybrid model in the US because Americans want to be seen while being green."
and it struck me: ohhhhhh... people wanna be seen in a vehicle that's only hybrid. The hybrid camry looks identical to the regular camry and that's just not good enough. Hybrid owners need their own separate hybrid body and style, so from a mile away people can see them coming and shout "LOOK, IT'S A HYBRID!"
this makes sense in the same way it sucks driving a SRT 300C or charger when your neighbor bought the 6 banger version and saved $20,000. Sure you have the big V8, but your V8 doesn't look anymore impressive rolling down the street than your neighbor's does.
12/29/06 06:35 PM Bumblebee says:
It may help to remember that Toyota developed the original Prius - which turned a net loss with each sale - from their marketing budget: They developed the car not to make profit per unit but to cultivate buyers to the brand.
It's a long-term strategy, and rolling it out means capitalizing on this more attractive identity they've created by making Toyota Hybrids that may be somewhat less green but still carry this attractive image. Sure, less efficient hybrids dilute that image a little, but it's not like they'll pull a Jeep and build a CompAss.
It's a similar strategy to creating the Scion brand (50% of owners go onto buy Toyotas), but marketing to environmentalists instead of youth.
12/29/06 08:51 PM
http://www.jalopnik.com/cars/news/notsopious-prius-toyota-looking-to-supersize-gas-engine-in-next-hybrid-model-225046.php
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<wild-eyed car gossip snipped>
So, what does Toyota say?
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Michael Pardee wrote:

That depends - the posted gossip doesn't say what model...
http://pressroom.toyota.com/Releases/View?id=TYT2006091134411
<quote> Lexus 2008 LS 600h L: World's First Full Hybrid V8 Luxury Sedan Joins All-New Fourth-Generation LS 460 and LS 460 L 09/12/2006 Torrance, CA Revised: 09/28/2006 September 12, 2006 - Torrance, CA - Unveiled at the 2006 New York International Automobile Show, Lexus' all-new 2008 LS 600h L hybrid luxury sedan is scheduled to arrive in spring 2007. The all-wheel-drive LS 600h L will be the world's first vehicle to feature a full hybrid V8 powertrain.
"The LS 600h L was developed to explore the outer reaches of performance, style and safety," said Bob Carter, Lexus Division group vice president and general manager. "It is a vehicle as efficient and familiar as it is indulgent and advanced, a far-reaching concept, fully developed and fully realized. It is simply in a class by itself."
Lexus Hybrid Drive Coinciding with the debut of the all-new LS is the introduction of the Lexus Hybrid Drive name, which will be used globally for all Lexus hybrid models. The hybrid-drive system in the LS 600h L builds upon the Lexus legacy established by the RX 400h and GS 450h to combine an all-new five-liter V8 gasoline engine with large, high-output electric motors and a newly designed large-capacity battery pack. This advanced combination will provide the LS 600h L with an unmatched balance of environmental efficiency and performance, furnishing the hybrid with a peak combined output rating of more than 430 horsepower.
To distribute this immense power, a new full-time all-wheel-drive system is utilized for superior handling control. The LS 600h L also employs a newly developed dual-stage electronically controlled, continuously variable transmission. This combination results in impressive power and seamless acceleration.
The Lexus Hybrid Drive system found in the LS 600h L is the automotive industry's most advanced gas-electric hybrid system developed to date. The hybrid system results in seamless power and very impressive passing speed. It will deliver power and performance on a par with modern 12-cylinder engines, while still delivering best-in-V8-class fuel efficiency.
The LS hybrid is expected to carry a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) rating. A SULEV rating means the LS 600h L has nearly 70 percent fewer emissions than the "cleanest" of its competitors.
"It is fair to say that to our knowledge there is nothing on the road, or on the drawing board, that comes close to delivering such a formerly contradictory combination of jaw-dropping engine performance, fuel efficiency and fewer emissions," Carter said.
Owing to the inherent noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) improvements offered by its hybrid powertrain, the LS 600h L is designed to set a new standard for silent running in the prestige-luxury sedan class. The depth and density of cabin quietness in the LS 600h L required extensive re-engineering of accessory motors and switches.
With "quiet-ride" ranking as one of the top five reasons for purchase of prestige-luxury vehicles, especially among current LS owners, the LS 600h L is well-situated in its class and poised to please the exacting luxury-car buyer. Its NVH levels are about half that found in conventional cars, making the hybrid LS one of the quietest automobiles ever built, if not the quietest.
High-Output V8 and World's First Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission The LS 460 and LS 460 L will be powered by an all-new, highly advanced 4.6-liter V8 engine that will produce approximately 380 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Combined with a world-first eight-speed automatic transmission, these LS sedans will travel from zero-to-sixty miles per hour in 5.4 seconds. Even with this level of performance, the new LS sedans are expected to receive a combined city/highway mileage of 23 mpg as well as an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle II (ULEV II) rating.
Advanced Active Safety Technologies Coinciding with the launch of the hybrid model is a newly developed, Advanced Pre-Collision System (APCS) that is unlike any system ever before offered by Lexus. One element of APCS is a new system designed to help detect pedestrians in the vehicle's path.
Two small cameras mounted at the front of the car, in conjunction with millimeter-wave radar, are sensitive enough to detect not just large metal obstructions such as cars but also smaller nonmetallic objects, such as humans.
A third camera, mounted on the steering column, monitors the orientation of the driver's face. If the camera sees that the driver is not looking directly ahead for a few seconds or more, and if an obstacle is detected ahead, then it alerts the driver first with a warning chime and a flashing light. To assist the driver in maneuvering around the obstacle, the system reprograms the steering ratio, amplifying the intensity and quickness of the steering response.
While all of this is happening, the system automatically retracts the seat-belt restraints for driver and front passenger and prepares the brake system to respond with increased force when activated by the driver in anticipation of a possible impact.
Dynamic Driving These unique active safety systems team with Lexus' proprietary next-generation Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, standard on all new LS models, which integrates Electric Power Steering (EPS), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Electronic Control Brakes (ECB), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).
An air suspension system equipped with Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) will be standard on the LS 600h L and an option on the LS 460 L. VGRS optimizes the steering gear ratio according to vehicle speed to help enhance responsiveness and driver control. VGRS also partners with VDIM, making minor adjustments to front-wheel angle for improved control in challenging road conditions.
Together these technologies make up an intelligently designed, logically conceived vehicle that helps to provide a level of confidence and control never before experienced.
L-finesse The styling on the new LS begins with a daring design language that shatters the myth that luxury sedans must be sedate and understated. A result of the recent design direction Lexus deems L-finesse, the new LS vehicles are the crowning touch to a fully restyled car lineup, which already includes the GS, IS and ES sedans.
The L-finesse design philosophy has its roots in creating a balance of contrasting elements. The new LS encompasses this direction with its bold look, style and personality-both vivid and forceful while at the same time warm, inviting and contemporary. With a pulled-back hood, characteristic of the new Lexus look, low-to-the- ground stance and elegantly sculpted and streamlined body contours, the LS emphasizes simplicity and style in a stunning, modern package.
Premium Appointments The new LS 600h L will not only offer the highest level of performance, safety and technological advancements, it will also provide the highest level of comfort, convenience and roominess of the three distinctly different LS models.
Both the hybrid and the LS 460 L's long-wheelbase models bring 4.8 inches of additional legroom for rear passengers. They also can be outfitted with a long list of luxury conveniences that includes four-zone front and rear air conditioning with air purification, rear-door power sunshades and rear power headrests, a unique four-person seating configuration with a fixed rear console and fold-out wood table, with a right rear-seat 45-degree recliner with leg rest and multifunction massage.
Technology amenities on the long-wheelbase models will include voice-activated hard disk drive (HDD) Navigation with Bluetooth® technology and XM real-time traffic system, a first in the prestige luxury segment, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with power nine-inch drop-down screen, and the specially developed 19-speaker 450-watt Mark Levinson® Reference Surround Sound audio system, which creates a new standard for automotive sound systems. In addition, the LS 600h L will be the world's first vehicle to be equipped with LED headlights for nighttime and low-beam use.
The LS will also be the first Lexus to offer XM satellite radio as a factory-installed option. The all-new LS sedans will all offer an Advanced Parking Guidance System. The driver simply selects a parking spot, lines up the vehicle and pushes a button and the system parks the car with just a little brake work by the driver.
Like all LS-series vehicles, the LS 600h L's intelligent and evocative design carries through to the beautifully appointed cabin. Extra luxury and comfort touches include a heated steering wheel and seats wrapped in one of four tones of semi-aniline leathers matched to one of three coordinating wood-grain trims.
Craftsmanship While the list of comfort, convenience and luxury features on the new LS-series vehicles is remarkable, another truly defining aspect of these cars is their superb craftsmanship. In order to build a vehicle that would redefine "world's best," Lexus started by improving a production process widely recognized as the industry's finest.
The new LS 600h L as well as the LS 460 and LS 460 L are the result of an all-new build process developed specifically for the LS line at Lexus' award-winning Tahara, Japan, plant. With this extraordinary investment in engineering expertise comes a luxury sedan that achieves extraordinary new levels of fit, finish, accuracy and refinement. The all-new LS sedans showcase the Lexus belief that every element and phase of production is vital and that building cars is more than just a business-it is an art form.
2008 LS 600h L Preliminary Specifications [chart removed because of formatting issues] </quote>
http://pressroom.toyota.com/Releases/View?id=TYT2007010379159
<quote> Toyota FT-HS Concept Debuts At The 2007 North American International Auto Show 01/03/2007 Torrance, CA January 3, 2007 - Torrance, CA - The Toyota FT-HS hybrid sports concept will make its debut at the 2007 North American International Auto Show.
Pairing a potent hybrid powertrain with essential sports car fundamentals, the FT-HS concept was a joint undertaking of Calty, Toyota's North American-based, research and design center located in Newport Beach, Calif., and Toyota's California-based Advanced Product Strategy Group. The design team was assigned the task of creating a mid-priced sports car that integrates ecology and emotion in a concept that addresses the question "What is a suitable sports car for the 21st Century?"
"Drivers today are not satisfied with cars that are simply fast," said Kevin Hunter, vice president, Calty Design Research. "In addition to driving enjoyment, today's drivers are concerned about safety, ecology and social responsibility."
The FT-HS incorporates hybrid capability while maintaining sports car essentials, such as a sleek profile, lightweight aero-dynamic materials, and an advanced high-output powertrain for revolutionary acceleration and optimal performance. This 21st century sports car is fun-to-drive with eco-friendly benefits such as ultra-low emissions and fuel efficiency. The FT-HS appeals to an emerging buyer who grew up eco-conscious and perceives technology as a necessity, not a luxury.
This two-plus-two concept is a front-engine, rear-drive sports car with a projected zero-to-60 acceleration in the four-second range. A powerful V6, 3.5L-engine is coupled with a 21st century sports hybrid system with a target power output of approximately 400-horsepower. At a mid-priced market position, FT-HS would be a true "attainable exotic" with 21st Century performance.
FT-HS expresses the core values of a Toyota Brand design strategy that combines two key elements: J-Factor and Vibrant Clarity. J-Factor refers to the local and global acceptance of Japanese-inspired design and cultural sensibilities. Vibrant Clarity is the design language used to express the J-factor much in the same way that L-Finesse is the language of the Lexus Division. It is the combination of perfect imbalance, freeform geometrics and integrated component architecture. The result of these three elements is subtractive mass, a minimalist style that is not only lightweight, but also looks lightweight.
The exterior design was led by Calty designer, Alex Shen. From a design perspective, the theme of the FT-HS achieves sleek, taut surfaces in its exterior features - especially in the doors and body style. The front and rear have been sculpted to remove mass around key functional components. Freeform geometrics define the integration of fluid surfaces contrasting hard-edge "Aero-Corners" which promote smooth airflow and reduce turbulence.
The roof has a distinctive scooped-out section designed to reduce aerodynamic drag and provide head room at the key areas. Made from carbon fiber Kevlar, the roof retracts so that the roof panel and back window pivot fluidly in a downward motion to stow in the rear seat space.
The vehicle's triangular profile has a floating "C" pillar, aero corners, a full upper-body pan, and innovative open top. A hood features a scalloped channel, exposing the hybrid engine. Integrated component architecture can be seen in the aerospace-inspired lighting. The tail lamp unit spans the entire rear, and has an integrated retractable spoiler. Light-emitting diode (LED) clusters are located in the headlamps and the wing for energy-efficiency and decreased heat loss. Other exterior features include a speed-activated wing that elevates at high speed for additional stability and traction. The rear showcases a carbon fiber lower diffuser with integrated wide exhaust and carbon fiber wheels.
The driver-oriented interior was created by Calty designer, William Chergosky and exudes sleekness, technology, and performance. The lean skeletal look is achieved with exposed cross-car architecture and high-tech materials such as carbon fiber, and titanium. FT-HS' interior features create a dedicated driver's cockpit which include subtractive mass expressions such as cross-car instrument panel structure and delta wing driver pod. The delta-wing driver's pod integrates many useful functions into a lightweight structural unit. All of the important functions and details are presented almost exclusively to the driver. For example, touch-trace sensors which surround the driver and act as tactile guides for finger controls when traveling at high speeds.
By eliminating the "B" pillar and creating a suspended "C" pillar, the minimalist style works in conjunction with subtractive mass. An integrated instrument panel surrounds the driver, creating an enclosed pod effect. Armrests flow seamlessly into the door and surrounding interior.
Seating is optimized for a lightweight appearance and function: the seating accommodates four and then coverts to a two-seater when the roof retracts. The passenger-seat area is open with a simple exposed airbag on the cross-car beam.
A telescoping hub-less steering wheel incorporates semi-automatic paddle shifters and allows the meter to be shifted forward in order to shorten the driver's focus-time between the road and meter, and ultimately enhance driver focus.
"FT-HS redefines the sports car experience not only with styling but also in function and performance," said Hunter. "The FT-HS is Toyota's answer to the question 'What is a suitable sports car for the 21st Century?'"
TOYOTA FT-HS CONCEPT VEHICLE PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS
DRIVETRAIN 3.5 Liter V6 hybrid electric
DIMENSIONS (inches) Overall Length: 170.27
Overall Width: 73.23
Overall Height: 50.79
Wheelbase: 104.33
Wheels: Carbon Fiber
Tire Sizes: Front 245/35R21 Rear 285/30R21 </quote>
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