Used TOYOTA PRIUS Models Comparison
The Toyota Prius is available in two forms, as a totally electric plug-in model and a combination gas powered and electric powered hybrid. This revolutionary design will be entering its 16th model year. The Prius has set many trends among followers including status symbol, environmental friendliness, and the ability to possess an award winning design that continuously is on the forefront of innovation. From its humble beginning as a basic four door sedan, the Prius has evolved into a variety of designs. Availability varies based on the location of the end market. In addition to growing with technology, the Prius has also improved environmentally. Fuel efficiency has improved 26 percent from 4.9 L/100 km to 3.9 L/100 km. Battery life has also improved along with the warranty behind it. As for the design itself, the body has transitioned from a fossil fuel based composition to more environmentally friendly materials.
"Customers buy this vehicle because it is practical, economical, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. This vehicle is reliable and durable."
Later models improved on energy usage and recapture. Electric motors drive the power steering and first-ever totally electric air conditioning. Recapturing the energy became a big part of the environmental improvements. Regenerative braking captures electrical energy which is then stored in the battery. Heat that is generated is also recaptured. Early on, engine heat was recaptured and stored for faster warm ups. Later versions use the catalytic converter as a source of heat.
Prius technology has exceeded that of the industry. In an effort to compete with gas powered vehicles, the Prius extended all of the feature sets including more efficient lighting, improved display technology, drivetrain intelligence, and connectivity via Bluetooth, USB and satellite. Intelligence also plays a part in the energy usage of the vehicle. Battery charge rates extend battery life through software control. Instead of fully recharging the battery, it is instead only charged to only half of its capacity. This provides two benefits; there is capacity for charging from regenerative braking and the battery lasts longer.
The Toyota Prius is a symbol of marketing ingenuity that succeeded where Detroit failed. Launched amid much speculation that the car would fail due to safety reasons, potentially negative profits, and the lack of desire for fuel economy as a preferred quality; the Prius proved itself and established an industry for hybrid cars. The success of the Prius was due to the foresight of Toyota from both marketing and engineering standpoints. From an engineering perspective, Toyota arrived at a hybrid combination of gas and electric vehicle after several tries. They did not make the mistake of going with a pure electric vehicle like GM did with the Impact. Instead, Toyota realized that a hybrid provided the optimized result of performance, range, emissions, and economy.
From a marketing standpoint, Toyota designed the car for different markets based on needs. The NHW10 was the first model introduced in 1997 for the Asian and European market where a more Spartan form of transportation was desired. The initial design of the Prius explains why it was successful. In addition to the specifications, this car was designed to target transportation for a given market. The model was a four door sedan which made it successful for its number one objective, economical transportation. The styling was the result of a contest between Japanese and California based competitors. The Japanese based design was favored by an older crowd whereas the California style appealed to a younger crowd. By going with the California design, Toyota ensured the market that would be most likely to purchase the car, young families with children. This particular buyer wanted economy and style with room for four. The older crowd desired style and performance. In addition, the older crowd preferred two doors and could afford more. Toyota realized that the world was ripe for economical, environmentally transportation. This was especially true with China and India both emerging towards the era of modern transportation. The volume potential was obvious. Convincing the world to buy a new technology would be the challenge.
The Prius has undergone major changes throughout its lifetime. The design has evolved from a four door compact sedan to a midsized lift back in 2003. This second generation design went on to include many improvements as well as the increased warranty backing by Toyota. The name Prius means “to go before” in Latin. This forward looking choice of words along with the success of the first generation Prius is proof that Toyota once again outpaced Detroit’s archaic attitude of “build it and they will come”.
First Generation (1997 - 2003)
The first generation NHW10 Prius model was designed for the Japanese market. The four door sedan styling along with the hatchback versus a trunk made for a successful combination. The original design featured a unique concept of “split power” that allowed both the gas and electric power to propel the vehicle. The engine was limited to 1.5L and 58 HP (43 kW). Even though the vehicle was designed for shorter trips based on European and Asian driving habits, it still sported a long range fuel capacity of 11 UK gallons (50 litres). The remainder of the specifications in terms of dimensions put the car in the economy class for vehicles of the time. Even then, it was bigger than its smaller gas driven vehicle the Corolla. The NHW10 was 4.275 meters long and sported a wheel base of 2.550 meters.
The NHW11 was Prius was a first generation version that was designed for the US market. The NHW11 was 4.315 meters long which made it a bit heavier at 1250 kg versus 1240 kg for the NHW10. These changes meant an increase of less than 1% for the US market which typically demands bigger as better. In an era where carburetors were giving way to fuel injection, Toyota spared no performance enhancements by offering an engine that features 4 cylinders and 16 valves along with fuel injection. The electric motor produced 44 HP (33 kW) while the battery technology was Nickel Metal Hydride. The design wasn’t without its problems as there were failures due to electrolyte leaking from the batteries. A recall fixed this issue and supposedly offset future failures. Even with the recall and improvements in the batteries in second generation models, the overall maintenance record of the First Generation Prius is relatively good in comparison with its gasoline based counterparts. The Model NHW11 was introduced in 2000 for the American market where range, features, and performance were in demand. Therefore, power steering and air conditioning were added to the NHW11.
Although the Prius was delayed until 2000 before being introduced in the UK, the NHW10’s desirable traits resulted in early importation to Europe making these pre 2000 cars a rare find. Combined with the Toyota reputation for reliability, a first generation Prius is an investment worth considering. This is especially true if you can obtain a pre 2000 model in Britain as it may increase in value due to it being a presale status as a privately imported version.
Second Generation (2003 - 2009)
The NHW20 model is the second generation of Prius. This update expanded on Toyota’s original success that had created a market for hybrid automobiles. The second generation Prius model is referred to as a major redesign effort due to the number of changes including size upgrade. Toyota took the design from a compact four door hatch back to a midsized lift back. The revolutionary hybrid became more powerful while offering better fuel efficiency, more room, and a new look.
Power improvements were realized in the gas power as well as the electric motor. The gas engine size remained the same at 1.5L with a 31% improvement in horsepower from 58 HP to 76 HP. The electric motor improved 52% from a HP of 44 to 67 HP 50 (kW). I terms of fuel efficiency, the combined improvement was 11% better with the NHW20 than the original NHW10.
The new design offered improved rear seat leg room and cargo room. The size increase was only 4% in length and 6% in weight. Aerodynamics improved the fuel efficiency and handling capability due to a lower drag coefficient. Innovation was not limited to the vehicle’s attributes in terms of physical advantages for the customer. In addition to the features, 530 patents were awarded thus ensuring market advantages of 20 years over the competition.
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Third Generation (2009 - present)
Third generation ZVW30 Prius models had a large increase in specifications as well as a number of technology innovations. The 1.8-liter gasoline engine is rated at 98 hp (73 kW) which represents a 29% improvement over its predecessor, the 1.5 liter second generation NHW20. The ZVW30 had a 100% increase in electric power with a 134 HP replacing the previous 67 HP version. With the onset of the Tesla models creating more demand for power, Toyota has truly kept up with the customer’s needs in their third generation product offering. More power did not mean an increase in fuel consumption. As with the transition from the first to the second generation, the fuel efficiency once again increased by 11% from the NHW20 to the ZVW30.
The third generation Prius represented how far the industry had advanced. Whereas the first generation Prius was introduced in Japan and then delayed three years prior to being introduced in the US, the third generation Prius was introduced at the North American International Auto Show. Not only had Toyota created the hybrid market, they had done the impossible by winning over the American consumer. The United States at 1.48 million is a close second to Japan at 1.49 million in total purchases of all Prius models as of 2014. The popular Toyota Prius v/α/+ European version sales figures total nearly a half a million vehicles.
The third generation Toyota offered improved environmental advantages. The body went from a petroleum based composite to a bioplastic that utilizes cellulose derived from wood and grass. In addition, upgrades were made to the drivetrain which weighed in at 20% less. This generation offered the first beltless design due to use of electric motors for power steering and air conditioning.
2011 upgrades were mostly based on the need to keep up with the advanced in automotive technology. A 155 mm display was added along with connectivity upgrades for USB, ipod, Bluetooth, and streaming audio. The 2011 design also offered environmental advantages of traditional earth friendliness as well as the operating environment.
In 2011 an optional solar roof panel was offered. This option enabled a ventilation fan for keeping the interior cool while the vehicle was parked. The “other” environmental improvements were linked to the vehicle’s operation. The silent nature of electric vehicles has been identified as a possible danger especially to pedestrians. The Prius overcame this potential hazard by implementing a Vehicle Proximity Notification System (VPNS). This innovation creates an artificial noise so that the vehicle can be heard by pedestrians as well as those with sight limitations. The final environmental upgrades were related to safety. The Lane Keep Assist feature helps to keep the vehicle from wandering. A safety feature applies the brakes when it detects an unavoidable crash is imminent.
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