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Toyota Prius (First Generation)

cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
edited March 20 in Toyota
I just got back from a Toyota training class on
the Prius. This is an amazing vehicle with a
really unique ordering process. If anybody is
interested in this topic, post your questions here.
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Comments

  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    When is it going to be released?! I heard it's this summer, could you give a more exact date? I have been waiting like forever to see it in person, they have been selling them in Japan since 1997 for God's sake! They sure waited long enough.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    We will have a "TRAC" car in mid June. This is a car we can't sell but will be available for test drives. Interested customers can work with a dealership but once they strike a deal, they will log on to www.toyota.com to order it. Yes, the consumer orders their own cars! Toyota has us confirm that it is really a deal and we get the allocation based on that order.

    The order bank goes into effect June 16th and the first cars for retail sale will be delivered between the last week of July to the first week of August. We will have none for stock for the first several months. All of them will go through this on line ordering system.
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    If they are going to make the U.S prius's engine more powerful? I was reading motor trend or one of those, and they said Toyota is likely to make then engine little more powerful than the 101 hp engine sold in Japan.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    The horsepower of the gasoline engine is totally irrelevant. It has no real connection to the driveline. This is an electric car with an ECHO engine acting as a power source to charge the batteries and sometimes turn the generator at highway speeds. HP will be 80 on the gas engine.

    BTW, torque on the electric motor is 225. Go figure that one!
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    225 ft lbs of torque? That's more than midsize car like Camry/Accord/Taurus. What the?!
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I think the little sucker is going to haul.

    I really wish there was more participation in this topic. This car is flat out amazing and Toyota has big plans for it. Somebody ask me about regenerative braking, free service, the warranty or how Toyota will handle warranty repairs.
  • canccanc Posts: 715
    I've heard that the Prius would be best suited for city driving and the Honda Insight for highway travel. Would this be true?
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    The Prius is certainly very well suited to city driving. It actually gets better mileage in town than on the highway because at low speeds, the gas motor is rarely running. The same holds true for highway driving if your commute is in heavy stop and go traffic. The Prius is not the ideal car for a person looking for a car to drive across country in. It is for the commuter who want a very clean burning and fuel efficient car.

    As to the Insight, the reason people may say it is a better highway car is because the gas motor is always running so economy is improved when not in stop and go situations.
  • dannygdannyg Posts: 131
    I saw the Prius at the NY Auto Show a while back & was very impressed. I'm not in the market for a sedan right now, but I hope someone will post driving impressions etc. to this forum once the car is more widely available.

    While we're on the topic, I'd really like to see a hybrid truck or SUV. Electric motors develop excellent torque at low RPMs, just what trucks/SUVs need. I drive a pickup truck, so I'm interested. I'd definitely consider a hybrid pickup if one was available. Just a thought.
  • dannygdannyg Posts: 131
    Do both engines hook up to the drivetrain or does the gas engine ONLY run the generator?

    At Toyota's web site, it seems that both engines hook up to the drivetrain. See http://www.toyota.com/afv/prius/intro_prius2.html and look at the engine info. It says the engines "...work in tandem, depending on the driving situation, to complement, augment, and even defer to one another."

    Maybe the excellent MPG for city driving may be due to regenerative braking?
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    dannyg:

    I think you are right. I think all the braking in
    the city driving is the reason why it actually
    gets better milage in the city. The Prius in Japan gets 66 mpg in the city, and only 50 something on the highway. Pretty funny. But then, again, it sort of works out. Since compact cars are not as well suited for long highway trips (not as comfortable, roomy, and crash worthy, nor as stable in the wind due to low weight). So I guess better gas milage in stop and go driving city/commute driving is actually a plus. Oh, as for the hybrid SUV, Ford said they will market a variant of it's Escape compact SUV with hybrid technology in 2003, and get 40 mpg (on the highway?).

    Cliffy1:

    I heard at the end of the last year, since its
    introduction in as a 1997 model car, Toyota managed to sell 28,000 of these Prius cars in Japan (where to automarket is about 1/4th the size of the U.S). So it sure sell equally well in the much larger U.S market. Of course the gas isn't as expensive in the U.S as in Japan, but it's getting more expensive by the day.

    Also it has the advantage that it actually is a
    true sedan (instead of the less utiliarian Insight
    as a 2 seater). So you can use it for the same
    things an Toyota Echo or Corolla is for -- small
    family needs.

    Honda, late with it's Insight, rushed it directly to U.S without long term market experience, and then only comes with 3 year/36K miles power train warranty on it. Since Toyota Prius has been sold in Japan for 3 years, all the teething problem are ironed out by now. Still the 5 year/60,000 mile power train warranty is good for peace of mind. Hmmm.... My family having owned multiple Toyota/Hondas, I know they are reliable. But I wouldn't be too complacent about fresh technology.

    Also, increditably, Toyota is pricing all that
    goodies at a lower price than the Honda Insight.
    Confirm this for me, will you cliffy? The Prius
    comes only in one flavor -- fully loaded, A/C,
    Power everything. MSRP - $19,995.

    :) I'm looking forward to seeing it in person.
    So when are you getting that demo in?
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    This website is great for detailed information on Prius.

    http://www.autosite.com/new/detmenus/2267.asp

    Very impressive.

    Cliffy: I have a question. The website has sited 2 different powertrain warraty:

    http://www.autosite.com/new/datashts/techspec/2267.asp

    here it said it will comes with WHOPPING 8 year/100,000 miles power train warranty. While another page listed the typical 5 year/60K warranty. So which one is it really?
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    The regular powertrain is 5/60K and the battery pack (and I believe related components) are for 8/100K.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Toyota will be coming out with a hybred SUV within the next couple of years. It will be a version of the new Highlander which is due out this winter in a gas buring form. This is a Toyota badged version of the lexus RX300.

    On you question of what is connected to what else, I am still a little unclear. The way it was described to me, is that the gas motor is connected to the generator only. The generator can send the power to either battery charging or into the CVT transaxle. So, yes, the gas engine contributes to actually turning the tires but is not directly connected to the transaxle.

    One of the big differences between this car and the insight is that the engine is not always running on the Prius. It kicks in only when needed. Because of this, it gets better mileage in town because you are less likely to need the gas motor in town. This is also why the Prius is rated as an SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) where the Insight is only a ULEV. ULEV vehicles have 75% more emissions than SULEV.
  • dannygdannyg Posts: 131
    Thanks for the responses. I'd love a hybrid Ford Escape...but I want it now, not in 2003!

    I think I read somewhere that the price of Prius in Japan was subsidized to test the market. That is, to see if people would buy a hi-tech hybrid vehicle if it was reasonably priced. Is the U.S. Prius also subsidized by Toyota? If so, any idea how much $$ per vehicle?

    By the way, subsidizing new technologies until they become accepted by the marketplace is fine by me! Once they sell them in volume, economies of scale will kick in and, don't worry, they'll make their $$$.

    Cliffy1, I'm confused about the drivetrain too.
    I think what Toyota has done is develop a very sophisticated electronic monitoring system that lets the electric engine, the gas engine, or both, run the car depending on the driving conditions. The gas engine can act as a generator OR directly hook up to the drivetrain to accelerate the car. This is implied by the Toyota link I listed in my previous note. Also see http://www.autosite.com/new/datashts/stdfeats/2267.asp under "Engines & Emissions". It says the both or either engine can run the car.

    This is a great system that lets the gas engine turn off entirely in stop-and-go traffic where the electric engine's excellent torque can be put to good use. But this doesn't mean the gas engine ONLY charges the batteries.

    That's my understanding, anyway.
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    dannyg:

    I heard estimate that Toyota subsized the car up to 50%. That was a while back. I'm sure it's little cheaper now after building them for 3 years now. But I'm still speculating that Toyota is probably still chipping in maybe 20% for each Prius sold in the U.S.

    Cliffy1: They are coming out with a Toyota RX300?! WHEN? And how much?! If they do, Toyota is going to make moocho $$$$ of that one. If people are willing to wait months for a Lexus RX300, imagine what it would be like to have a more affordable Toyota RX300? Man!
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    Which you can't do in this forum. The gas engine is connected to a generator (which when reversed, acts as the starter). The generator is connected to both the batteries and the transaxle. The batteries are connected to the generator and the electric motor. The electric motor is connected to the transaxle and the batteries. All of this is governed by the monitoring system which decides which motor is turning in which direction.

    I think we may be dealing in semantics as well. I am positive that the gas engine does not have a direct connection to the transaxle unless you count its route through the generator. Does this make sense?

    Let me also try to explain what I know of this generator. What a generator does is convert energy. It can work in either direction but when power is applied from the engine, the energy can be sent to the wheels via the transaxle or to the batteries to charge them. To start the engine, power is run from the batteries, through the generator and back into the engine. It is about 5 times as large as a normal starter and I have heard that startups are instantaneous.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    The Highlander will be out this winter. It will be built in the Indiana plant and will be available in 2 and 4 wheel drive with either a 4 or 6 cylinder engine. Eventually, it will come with the hybrid system as well. Pricing will be low 20's to low 30's depending on configuration.

    And yes, I think we will sell a ton of them. I can't wait.
  • jetson2jetson2 Posts: 5
    I have just joined the Town Hall so I could tell you that I have been waiting for this technology to come to market for more than 10 years (I first read about it in popular Science and thought it made alot of sense.)
    I too think there is more to gain from applying this to the SUVs to try and make them greener.
    I have not seen this car - how roomy is it? - I would not even think of the Honda as it is too small.
    Saftey is a hot button of mine - and Toyota has been doing better in crash tests recently - have you any idea how this will perform - is it based on an existing chassis?
    I think somewhere I read that it had side air bags- can you confirm?
    And Why if it gets 66mpg in Japan would they list only 50 or so?
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    The Prius is a compact car, in the same class as the Civic/Corolla.

    So it's good enough for 4 people, but not very comfy for 5. Looking at the spec, I noticed it's all the interior demension is about the same between Corolla and Prius, except the Prius has about 2 inches more leg room. So the Prius is little roomier.

    http://www.autosite.com/new/detmenus/2267.asp

    Check this site out. The weight of the Prius is listed as 2765 lbs. So it's 200-300 lbs heavier than Civic/Corolla (the battery pack probably weights 100+ lbs, regernative brakes and others probably makes up the rest). Heavier cars fairs better in a crash. Also crashworthiness usually improves with each generation, I think Prius should be at least as good as the mainstream civic/corolla if not better.

    Since the Prius has a longer wheel base than the Corolla (100.4 inch vs 97 inch). Also, the track is 1 inch wider for the Prius. So it should be a more stable platform.

    Of course, all this is just looking at the paper. I can't wait to test drive one in person.

    Oh, as for the milage. I sort of remember that the Prius in Japan used a smaller 1.0-1.3L engine and the U.S gets a bigger 1.5L engine. That's probably why the gas milage is different between the 2.
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    The Japanese version was tuned more for fuel economy while the US one needed more juice to satisfy American power requirements.

    The government has not crash tested this car yet but I think it should do well. It is on its own platform but is similar in size to the Corolla and ECHO. The ECHO actually did as well in Toyota's in house testing as the Camry did. I don't have my product info handy right now but I don't think it comes with the side air bags. I could be wrong.
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    I've driven a Prius, and the acceleration amazed me. It's no hotrod, but it won' disappoint you either.

    The interior is really cool.....very art deco in a contemporary way. i especially like the chrome strips (REAL chrome!) on the controls -- very elegant and contemporary.

    LOTS of space inside. It has what is now the in thing -- tall architecture for better head room, comfort, view of the road, etc.

    It's supposed to reatil for around $20, which is a steal.

    Think that's about it.......can't wait!!
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    Where did you drive a Prius?! I haven't even seen one in person. Were you in Japan? How did you get so lucky?
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    I have a business relationship with car companies that offer me certain perks. Believe me, it's the best part of the job!
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    Guess what??!! Toyota is going to release the first run to TRAC (Toyota Rent-A-Car) agencies at Toyota dealerships so that customers will be able to test drive them for as long as they wish (or their wallet allows). Nice idea, and I think people will be amazed at how nice a car it really is. I'm partial to the dark green, myself.....

    cliffy1: busted, eh?? :D
  • cliffy1cliffy1 Posts: 3,581
    I really like the TRAC car idea which is why I mentioned it in post #2, but thanks for restating it. :) We will have one but have method to charge for it so one hour to one day drives will be the norm.
  • Hello to all!!!
    First I'd like to thank cliffy1 for advising me that a Prius topic had been opened. I have plenty of questions about the Prius so I can further instruct my parents as to why I want to buy this car. My parents are very concerned about me buying this car, they continue claiming that "it will leave me stranded on the highway when the battery dies". They are worried that maintenance will cost me an arm and a leg. So, if anyone can answer these questions,I would appreciate it.
    1. How much does the battery cost and when will it need to be replaced?
    2. Will the maintenance fee for routine things such as brakes, etc, be higher than for other Toyota vehicles?
    3. Is the $500 college graduate discount applicable to the purchase of this vehicle?
    4. Is there a website where current Prius owners talk about their experience with the car in English? I came across one the other day, but it was all in Japanese.
    I know it's a lot of asking, but I'm a curious girl.. Thanks in advance.
    Dee :)
  • denniswadedenniswade Posts: 362
    .....Didn't see post #2 (just joined the topic) -- but as you say, can't hurt to repeat it!
  • wenyuewenyue Posts: 558
    Don't know how much battery replacement cost would be, but it wouldn't be cheap. These aren't your normal car batterys, they are lithium metal hydride batterys, the kind that you put in your cellphones. So I would imagine it to be pretty expensive. But the good thing is, it seems like there is a 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on the battery power system. :)
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