Toyota Announces Formal Plans to Sell Prius Hybrid Vehicle in U.S.
14 July 1998Toyota Announces Formal Plans to Sell Prius Hybrid Vehicle in U.S.
TORRANCE, Calif., July 14 -- Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) President Hiroshi Okuda announced today that the company will introduce a Toyota Hybrid System-powered Prius sedan in the U.S. in late 2000. "At Toyota, we are actively pursuing many different types of environmentally friendly technologies, one of which is the Toyota Hybrid System," Okuda said during a press conference in Tokyo. "We plan to use the next two years to further optimize the System for local driving conditions outside Japan." The Toyota Hybrid System incorporates a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor. It operates on electricity at low speeds and switches automatically to the gasoline engine at higher speeds, depending on load and driving conditions. Because of the system's design, Prius is capable of recharging its battery by routing power from the gasoline engine to an on-board electric generator and never needs to be plugged in. Okuda also announced that plans call for approximately 20,000 Prius vehicles to be sold in North America and Europe. When Prius debuts, Toyota engineers are targeting exhaust emissions that fall into the Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) category and fuel economy of approximately 60 miles per gallon (mpg). Prius incorporates all the safety, comfort, drivability, and performance of a conventional four-door compact sedan. A long wheelbase with short front and rear overhangs means outstanding ride and handling, along with interior packaging that comfortably seats four adults. Prius was designed at Calty, Toyota's Southern California design studio. Since it went on sale in Japan in December, over 7,700 Prius have been sold.