Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Toyota Launches Aqua Hybrid in Japan

Published December 27, 2011

By Jeff Cobb

Announced yesterday by Toyota Motor Corporation, the home-market version of the Prius C – called the “Aqua” – was launched as a frugal and evolved member of the growing Prius line.

Citing “17 years of Toyota expertise and technology in the development of mass-produced hybrid vehicles,” Toyota said its 1.5-liter Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) with reduction gear powertrain delivers about 100 horsepower and “world-leading” efficiency.

On the extremely optimistic Japanese JC08 test cycle, the Aqua gave 35.4 km/L (83.3 mpg U.S., 2.8 l/100km) and 40.0 km/l (94 mpg U.S., 2.5 l/100km) under the MLIT 10-15 test cycle.

The Atkinson-cycle engine uses a cooled Exhaust-Gas Recirculation (EGR) as well as an efficient battery-powered water pump, a friction-reducing beltless design and precise coolant-water-flow volume control.

The hybrid transaxle, which includes the power control unit, the power-generation motor and drive motor, has also been designed to be small and light.

Like the regular Prius, a selectable EV Mode enables short-range, low-speed driving with only the electric motor.

Usable cargo area of 10.8 cubic feet has been retained, with the hybrid battery being placed under the rear seat.

Toyota touts it as “fun and easy to drive,” with many options as one would expect, as well as several options for this Japan-market car that support access and operation for disabled people.

These include a Rotating Passenger Seat to facilitate smooth ingress and egress for people without use of their legs, as well as an electric loading/unloading mechanism for manual wheelchairs and designed-in wheelchair stowage capability.

Several other handicapped features are available including a special-purpose power steering that reduces the force necessary to turn the steering wheel, helping to ease steering during initial acceleration and low-speed driving.

Among the more ordinary options for non-handicapped people are LED headlights, navigation, backup camera, advanced info displays, upgraded sound system, and more (see press release linked below).

The vehicle ranges from 1,690,000 yen ($21,7905) to 1,790,000 yen ($22,989) to 1,850,000 yen ($23,760) for three non-handicap access models.

If you’re curious, prices for seven disabled-person access models intended for the company’s home market range from 1,950,000 yen ($25,044) to 2,679,000 yen ($34,406).

The monthly sales target in Japan is 12,000 units. They will be assembled at the Iwate Plant, Kanto Auto Works, Ltd.

When its U.S. version arrives next year, the Aqua will have shed its artful name, of which Toyota says:

“Derived from the Latin word meaning water. The name is meant to evoke an image of clean transparency as well as of something that is universally cherished. Also, the Aqua is meant to break the conventional image of hybrid vehicles, becoming something fluid and not constrained to any one shape or role – like free-flowing water. With this image, it is hoped that even more people will choose to experience the joys of hybrid vehicle ownership.”

Here it will simply be called the Prius C – but costing less and being more efficient than the Gen-3 Prius Liftback, Americans will be free to contrive their own flowery descriptions if they wish.

Toyota Press Release


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