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Bigger, more efficient next-gen Prius due Jan 2009

Posted by: Adam Aston on May 12, 2008

Edmunds Auto Observer has some intriguing details of the much anticipated update to the Prius, Toyota’s iconic and best-selling hybrid which just surpassed 1 million units in sales, a major milestone in the auto biz. First the bad news: no plans as yet for a plug-in model. Now the good news. The third gen is aiming for higher overall mileage — about 50 mpg — in a somewhat larger vehicle with a more powerful engine. As Peter Nunn writes, “… this has all has all the makings of an even bigger hit ” than today’s Prius. Meanwhile, Edmunds’ Bill Visnic posts an update to the eternal “when do hybrids become cost effective?” debate. Answer: with gas at $4 per gallon, much sooner than ever before. The premium for the Toyota Camry Hybrid can be recovered in gas savings in little as 18 months, for the Chevy Malibu hybrid, payback is about 2.7 years. Some models are still hard to justify in these terms:

Owners would have to hang on to GM’s Saturn Aura Greenline hybrid for 16.2 years to recoup their investment in hybrid technology, and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid takes 12 years to return the extra cost of hybridization.

Reader Comments

May 13, 2008 3:52 PM

I can't wait until I can convert a 2009 in to a Plug-In Hybrid. I get over 100mpg with my 2006 that I converted into a Plug-In Hybrid. I make kits for the 2004-2008, but I can tell already there will have to be a few changes to convert the 2009, but I’ll work on it.


May 14, 2008 12:23 AM

Bigger? More powerful? Who EVER asked for more power? What is it with auto execs to think that more powerful is always better?


May 14, 2008 5:01 AM

A 1.5litre diesel-electric hybrid Prius can easily top 50mpg. More than possible with direct rail injection, computer engine control, multivalve, CVT, and even with just NiMH batteries. With Li-Ion, I'm seeing 70mpg. This type of hybrid powertrain when scaled up can bring back the popularity of big mother SUV and pickups in style as never before: big torque power + quicker acceleration than V8 but fugal.
Too bad Big3 are stragglers in this race. Whoever come to market with this type of hybrid powertrain wins big.

Adam Aston

May 14, 2008 12:59 PM

ABraham, your missing the forest for the trees. The likes of Amory Lovins, of the Rocky Mtn Institute, and the Union of Concerned Scientists both take pains to emphasize that size is a red herring in the green car debate. Efficiency matters most, with weight a close second and size a distant consideration.

Put it another way: a biggish SUV built of ultra-light materials, weighing in at say 3,000 lbs instead of 2,000 lbs, might score mileage on par with one of today's gas-sipping Accords. And if that extra size draws more folks to consider making a switch to a high-mileage the vehicle, so much the better for the environment as a whole.

There have to be a variety of sizes of green vehicle on offer for sales to grow. So if Toyota can expand the appeal of the Prius by making it bigger -- *with* higher mileage -- more power too 'em. What's more, if enough folks like you clamor for similar advancements to be applied to smaller, lighter designs that get *even* higher mileage, they can make that too. Toyota just might do it...


May 15, 2008 10:30 AM

Despite the buzz surrounding the next generation of hybrid vehicles, I hope America follows Europe's lead and accepts diesel as readily as it accepts hybrid cars. They are more efficienct, clean, and user friendly than ever. However, they aren't as chic nor as eco-conscious as hybrids, and that alone may kill the diesel in America before it gets going.


May 16, 2008 12:37 AM

I have to agree with ABraham's comments, because i want this car not for the power, but because it will save me money on the pump and leave a smaller impact in the enviroment.


May 19, 2008 1:40 PM

When are you people going to learn and stop listening to these global warming fear mongers. Im interested in a hybrid strictly for the gas savings. If some one comes out with a Suburban sized vehicle that gets 25 or better per gallon Im on it. However Im not willing to pay 60 grand for it.


June 10, 2008 6:59 PM

I would love to get a hybrid in the Camry size with 50mpg. But it's got to have enough power to be able to drive reasonably well in traffic.
For me it has NOTHING to do with the environment - I only want to get completely independent of mid-east oil and quit spending our money on something with such a monopoly on supply. What really frustrates me is that the technology exists to make improvements, but it is so slow being pushed out.


June 30, 2008 12:23 PM

To me the most important is to be fuel efficient. Green and easy to drive is a bonus.

I own a Prius, for 2 years, and I cut in half the fuel expenses in city traffic. Very pleased with it.

Hybrid is a solution, as other may arise in the market. I hope other car makers do some innovation, as competition is good for innovation.


October 27, 2008 4:41 PM

Taxi drivers want more power, bigger, and same gas millage. I have seen a lot of Prius cab. Hope that new Prius will be more attractive to taxi drivers

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BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.

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