Named after the Latin word Prius, which means “to go”, Toyota designed a car that was progressive and fuel-efficient. Toyota’s designers and engineers wanted a car that would lead the future and in 1997, the first mass-produced hybrid sedan was introduced to the general public. The Toyota Prius is sold in more than 70 countries and the United States is one of its biggest markets. To date, there are 2.87 millions Prius units sold worldwide and it continues to grow with the addition of the Prius C, a compact hybrid hatchback.
NHW11 (First Generation): The Debut of the Prius Hybrid
Marketed between the smaller Corolla and the larger Camry, Toyota introduced the Prius in the U.S market in 2001. Powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder gasoline engine and a permanent magnet AC electric motor, the Toyota Prius’ gasoline engine churned out 70 horsepower, while its electric motor generated a maximum of 44 horsepower. Electric power steering and air conditioning became standard equipment on the Prius. A $2,000 USD federal tax deduction was offered to people who owned a Toyota Prius. With a 3 out of 10 air pollution score from the California Resources Board, the Prius was classified as anUltra Low Emission Vehicle or ULEV.
XW20 (Second Generation): The Midsized Prius Hybrid Hatchback
Toyota’s designers went back to the drawing board to redesign the Prius, and came up with the mid-sized liftback. The new Prius had more interior space and a redistributed mechanical design. Adopting the Kammback body style, this hybrid was more aerodynamic and it increased fuel-efficiency. An all-electric A/C compressor was used, making it an industry first and combining it with a better NiMH battery made the Prius more efficient. With its 1.5-liter 1NZ-FXE DOHC I4 VVT-I gasoline engine and 500-volt electric motor, the California Air Resources Board classified this Prius as a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle or SULEV. The Smart Key System, DVD navigation on its multi-function display, Bluetooth, and Vehicle Stability Control were some of the new features included on the new Prius.
XW30 (Third Generation): The Eco-friendly Bioplastics-based Hatchback
Using a new range of plant-derived ecological bioplastics, Toyota introduced these materials for the next generation of Prius sedans. With a 1-speed planetary gear transmissio, the new Prius is powered by a new gasoline and electric motor hybrid system, making it the most fuel-efficient car available in the U.S. Each Toyota Prius is equipped with 15-inch alloy wheels, Vehicle Stability Control, Smart Key System, Touch Tracer Display, a 6-speaker audio system, and a steering-wheel-mounted climate/audio controls. In 2011, the Prius Liftback received a subtle facelift which included updated headlamps, revised taillights, and a more distinctive front fascia. Toyota also included the Vehicle Proximity Notification System or VPNS for the U.S 2012 Prius models.