Not-So-Pious Prius: Toyota Looking To Super-Size Gas Engine In Next
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]
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
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
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
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
I thought the Prius was already considered a mid-size. Those things
12/29/06 01:12 PM
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
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.
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 $50 (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
tonsoffun -- try sitting in the back seat of one. Those batteries take
up a lot of room.
12/29/06 01:44 PM
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
$0,000. 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
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
12/29/06 08:51 PM
Michael Pardee wrote:
That depends - the posted gossip doesn't say what model...
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
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
"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
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
While the list of comfort, convenience and luxury features on the new
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]
Toyota FT-HS Concept Debuts At The 2007 North American International
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
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
"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
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
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
3.5 Liter V6 hybrid electric
Overall Length: 170.27
Overall Width: 73.23
Overall Height: 50.79
Wheels: Carbon Fiber
Tire Sizes: Front 245/35R21 Rear 285/30R21