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New Prius set to woo fleets
Written By Faye Sunderland Published On: May 12 2009
The new Toyota Prius, due to hit the showrooms this summer will offer even better fuel efficiency and CO2 emission levels. Recently threatened by the introduction of the cheaper yet similar Honda Insight hybrid, Toyota are set to move to reclaim the crown of leading manufacturer of hybrid cars. The new Prius will offer CO2 emissions of just 98g/km of CO2 compared to the Insight figure of 101g/km CO2, exempting the Prius from VED. In fact the new Prius will rival much smaller cars in fuel efficiency such as the Ford Fiesta Econetic and the SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive-also 98g/km CO2- yet offer the space and luxury more befitting of a company executive. The new, third-generation Prius will be the cleanest car in its class, and as such is set to prove a huge hit within the fleet sector. The current model starts from £18,370, no prices have yet been announced for the new model but are set to be within a similar bracket, while the Honda Insight introduced in April starts from £15, 490. For the new, third generation Prius, the famous Hybrid Synergy Drive has been comprehensively revised and improved, with more than 90 per cent of its components redesigned to create a lighter, more compact system, with a focus on increased power, further reductions in real-world fuel consumption and improved cold weather operation. As a result system power output has been increased by 22 per cent, from 109 to 134bhp (110 to 136 DIN hp) and, with performance to match a conventional 2.0-litre petrol vehicle, new Prius will accelerate from nought to 62mph in 10.4 seconds. At the same time overall fuel economy has been improved by 10 per cent, new Prius returning 72.4mpg in combined cycle driving. The adoption of a larger, 1.8-litre engine reduces the rpm during high-speed driving to give a 10 per cent gain in long-haul cruising fuel efficiency. And with more torque produced at lower engine speeds, new Prius offers more relaxed cruising performance, too. Prius easily exceeds the Euro 5 emissions standards, producing 89g/km of CO2. And when operating in EV mode at speeds up to 30mph, it uses no fuel and produces zero exhaust emissions. Unlike parallel or ‘mild’ hybrids, which use additional electric motor power purely to boost petrol engine performance, or ‘series’ hybrids, which rely on electric power alone to drive the wheels, new Prius is a full hybrid capable of running in petrol and electric modes alone, as well as a combination of both. The system comprises a 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol engine, a powerful electric motor, a generator, a high-performance battery, a power control unit and a power split device, which uses a planetary gear set to combine and re-allocate power from the engine, electric motor and generator as required. The key to the successful installation of Hybrid Synergy Drive within Prius’s front-engine platform is the housing of the electric motor, generator and power split device on a single, lightweight and highly compact transmission casing that is little bigger than a conventional gearbox. The new transaxle itself is smaller, 20kg lighter and benefits from a 10 to 20 per cent reduction in driveshaft energy losses compared to the current system. New Prius’s seamless transmission has three ‘on-demand’ driving modes: EV, ECO and POWER to increase fuel economy, driving efficiency and performance according to driving conditions. From start-up and at speeds of less than 31mph (50km/h), new Prius automatically operates in EV mode. The driver can also select EV mode manually, with the car’s driving range determined by the level of battery charge. In ECO mode, throttle response to aggressive accelerator pedal inputs is reduced and the air conditioning control is adjusted for improved fuel economy. Depending on driving conditions, ECO mode can help drivers achieve a 10 to 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption. Finally POWER mode modifies response to throttle inputs, boosting power to improve acceleration and give greater driving pleasure. With the combination of style and class, combined with great fuel efficiency the new Prius is set to be massive hits with fleets this year, as fleet managers look to keep company taxation rates and fuel bills down. The Prius should also go a long way towards fulfilling corporate social responsibilities towards the environment. As such, particularly within the public sector, 2009 could be the year of the Prius as the famous model returns to form and once again gives the competition a run for their money. Search ContractHireAndLeasing.com for the best car leasing deals on the Toyota Prius.
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