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Toyota Prius Hybrid: Hybrid cars reigning champion

Well what can I say? The Toyota Prius hybrid is the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when you mention hybrid cars.

It has led the way for hybrids for years and outsells the competition by miles.

The first Toyota Prius hybrid went on sale in Japan in 1997 and then here in Europe in 2000. There have been plenty of improvements since then with most new models making an improvement in emissions or efficiency.

Toyota Prius Hybrid The Prius has been Hollywood’s green car of choice for many years and although that may be changing with the greater availability of electric powered cars like the Tesla Roadster and the Nissan Leaf, it still is hugely popular. For years it was a big statement to show up at an award show in Hollywood in a Prius instead of a limo or a hummer but now it’s just seen as another car which means the celebrities have done their job for hybrid cars!

The Prius is a series parallel hybrid. This means it can be powered by petrol alone, an electric and petrol mix or electric power only. There is an EV mode button on the Prius too. This means when it is started up it can run just on electricity while driving under low loads until the battery runs out and the engine kicks in.

Toyota Prius Hybrid This is great for cruising around and replicating the peace and quiet of an all-electric vehicle! Who wouldn’t want that since it’s one of the major perks of an electric car? It may not be able to go as far as the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid but it’s still a start.

Aerodynamics help a lot with the fuel efficiency of a car a lot as if you have better aerodynamics it makes it easier to push the car at a higher speed so you need less power and therefore less fuel. They made sure the Toyota Prius hybrid took advantage of that by giving it all the design help it could get while still making it look good, although some people may argue with the good looking part! The third generation Prius now gets an aerodynamic rating of 0.25 Cd which is pretty good (the lower it is, the better it is!).

Toyota Prius Hybrid The engine that makes up part of the hybrid collaboration is 1.8l and gives out 98hp. That might seem pretty low but when you add on the power produced by the motors it adds up to 134hp. Although it won’t be breaking any high-speed records, that’s all the power you really need for a car of its size.

All this gives the Toyota Prius hybrid some great mpg numbers. It gets 72mpg UK (3.9 l/100km, 60mpg US) which is good for the wallet and the environment.

But Toyota must have thought all this wasn’t green enough because they decided to go one step further. There is now “Ecological plastic” in the new Prius instead of oil based plastics. These plastics are made from the plants kenaf and ramie. Never heard of them before? Neither did I but apparently they’re pretty good at what they do! However not many parts of the hybrid car are made from these eco plastics but they plan on introducing more and more over time and I hope they keep that promise because if you’re cutting down on the oil you use to move the car then you should also be cutting down on the oil you use to make it too.

Toyota Prius Hybrid Now for a long time electric car enthusiasts had been crying out for a plug-in version of the Toyota Prius and now it looks like they’re finally going to get what they want. The Toyota Prius PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is being manufactured and sent to fleets like the governments here in Ireland.

The big difference between the plug-in hybrid and the original Toyota Prius hybrid is that the NiMH battery was changed to Li-ion which can store much more energy in a smaller space.

Take a look at the Prius PHEV at the 2011 Irish motor show in the video below.

Many people found Toyota were taking WAY too long to produce this plug-in hybrid and decided to take some initiative and create their own. There are plenty of impressive versions out there too with some people achieving over 100mpg with their modified versions. One company that does conversions is Enginer.

Toyota Prius Hybrid The Prius brand will soon be branching out to include other styles of hybrid cars too such as the Prius V which is a Prius with 50% more luggage space. Basically it’s a Prius Estate and it unfortunately gets lower fuel efficiency because of its size. It can get a combined 40mpg US but it means that hybrids can branch out and convert more people to fuel efficiency who wouldn’t have found the original Prius practical for themselves.

So the Toyota Prius hybrid has come a LONG way since its beginning in 1997 and only it looks set to get bigger. I think when we look back on it the Prius will really have defined the start of the hybrid car movement and paved the way to greener electric cars in the mainstream but their story definitely isn’t over yet.

Other "Who makes hybrid cars?" Articles

GMC Yukon Hybrid
A hybrid with a 6.0l V8. Is it crazy?

Ford Escape Hybrid
A hybrid that can go off road too.

Chevy Volt
A plug-in hybrid that can travel 60km on battery power alone!

Ford Fusion Hybrid
The 2010 North American Car of the Year.

Nissan Altima Hybrid
Is this Nissan Hybrid the next best green car to the Nissan Leaf?

Honda Civic Hybrid
For Hybrid Vehicles It's whats on the inside that counts

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