2010 Prius Delivers Record Mileage and Accelerates Plug-in Plans

By John Addison. Toyota achieves a record 50 miles per gallon with the new 2010 Prius, which just made its formal debut at the North American International Auto Show. This article also covers Toyota’s latest plug-in hybrid and EV announcements.

Since the Prius was first went on sale in Japan in 1997, continuous improvements have been made. My 2002 Prius has a combined EPA rating of 41, and that has been its actual mileage. Newer models are rated at 46 mpg. The new 2010 should be rated at 50 miles per gallon, or better. Toyota

In addition to normal driving, Prius now comes with three selectable modes – EV, Eco and Power – to accommodate a wide range of driving conditions.

Hybrid components like the inverter, motor, and generator are now smaller and lighter. The new midsized 2010 Prius improves fuel efficiency with a 0.25 coefficient of drag making it the world’s most aerodynamic production vehicle. Hybrid components like the inverter, motor, and generator are now smaller and lighter. The new beltless 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine with 98 horsepower, runs at lower RPMs at highway speeds for better fuel efficiency and improved uphill performance. An exhaust heat recovery system, exhaust gas recirculation, and an electric water pump contribute to a more efficient hybrid system with a net horsepower rating of 134.

An exciting new option is the solar moonroof using Kyocera PV that automatically powers a ventilation system on hot days. This system allows fresh air to circulate into the vehicle, cooling down the cabin so that the A/C doesn’t have to work as hard, conserving battery power. The solar roof will be paired with a remote air-conditioning system that is the first in the world to run on battery power alone. LED head lamps are another exciting energy saving option.

The Prius will face increased competition. The new Honda Insight 4-door sedan, 5-seater, with an Ecological Drive Assist System is expected to be priced for thousands less than the Prius. Honda will start selling the Insight in North America in spring 2009. The Insight will have a combined EPA rating of 41 miles per gallon, over 20 percent less than the 2010 Prius.

The new Ford Fusion Hybrid midsize 4-door sedan will be on sale in the US this next spring, with an EPA certified 41 mpg rating in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid may travel up to 47 miles per hour in pure electric mode. The Advanced Intake Variable Cam Timing allows the Fusion and Milan hybrids to more seamlessly transition between gas and electric modes.

Toyota is also accelerating its roll-out of plug-in hybrids. Beginning in late 2009, Toyota will start global delivery of 500 Prius plug-in hybrids powered by lithium-ion batteries. Of these initial vehicles, 150 will be placed with U.S. lease-fleet customers.

The first-generation lithium-ion batteries powering these plug-in hybrids will be built on an assembly line at Toyota’s Panasonic EV Energy Company battery plant, a joint-venture production facility in which Toyota owns 60 percent equity. During its development, the new Prius was designed and engineered to package either the lithium-ion battery pack with plug-in capability, or the nickel-metal hydride battery for the conventional gas-electric system.

Toyota plans to make a hybrid drive system optional on all vehicles by 2020. At the North American International Auto Show, Toyota confirmed its plan to launch a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) by 2012. The FT-EV concept shares its platform with the revolutionary-new iQ urban commuter vehicle. Toyota continues to give customers an increasingly exciting selection of fuel-efficient hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. His new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – goes on sale March 25.

2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I read that they redesigned the braking systems for the 2010 Prius. That appears to be Toyota's response to the fact that the U.S. Generation 2 Prius (2004-2009) has had low-speed brake failures reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at 31 times the rate of such failures reported for the 2004-2009 Corolla, which of course has traditional brakes. Many of the Prius low speed brake failures were in low-speed city traffic, resulting in rear-end collisions without injury. It appears that the several computers that control the complex braking systems were too busy calculating the most efficient way to apply the brakes, and did not get around to actually applying them, until it was too late. Toyota never took responsibility for the problem, but the 2010 redesign indicates they were aware of it. Unfortunately, the NHTSA never initiated an investigation despite the extremely high rate of failures. The detailed failure reports ("complaints") are available to the public on the NHTSA website. The details are these: To April 2009, 2004-2009 Prius has received 44 complaints of low speed brake failure. 2004-2009 Corolla has received 7 complaints of such failures. Given that at least five times more Corollas than Prius were sold during 2004-2009, 44/(7/5) = 31 times the rate of brake failure for the Generation 2 Prius.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I have a 2006 Prius, and while I go slowly down a hill (aprox 10-15 mph),and hit this same pothole with the left front tire while I have the brakes on, the skid control light comes on and all the brakes, each of the 4 wheels,release (no brakes),1 second later they come back on. Their is also no feedback on the pedal, because the brake pedal is not connected to the brake master cylinder.(The Prius is drive by wire,and the brake unit looks like a large Antilock module). The dealer could not detect this problem,and said it was ok, so if I am going slow in slippery conditions I am ready to press on the emergency brake. It also dosn't work good in snow, because the traction control only cuts electric motor/engine power, it does not accuate the brakes to slow the spinning wheel,it seems to me. You must use chains, or agressive snow tires,if you live in a mountainous area like me.

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