A long time ago, in automotive terms, anyways, in a factory not so far away, the first Toyota Prius came off the line.
The first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle hit the market in 1997, the Toyota Prius. The combination of nickel-metal hydride [NiMH] backup battery power, electric motors, and gasoline engine, gave the Prius something that other high-mpg vehicles just didn’t have: power and efficiency. Sure, there were other vehicles rated up to 40mpg, but delivered only fuel economy, and nothing more. The Toyota Prius, to be sure, isn’t a performance vehicle, but delivers more off the line and even more on the highway than other economy vehicles.
Kaizen, Japanese for “improvement” has become a business practice, enabling forward-thinking companies, such as Toyota Motor Manufacturing, to look at ways to improve their product, manufacturing methods, efficiency protocols, profitability being the end result. The “continuous-improvement” Kaizen effect in the Toyota Prius can easily be seen by looking at the way Prius has evolved over the years. Every six years or so, Toyota Prius gets a boost in performance and efficiency. For example, the 1997 Toyota Prius was rated at 41mpg [with many owners reporting closer to 50mpg]. The second-generation Prius was rated at 46mpg and the third generation was rated at 50mpg.
A ten percent bump in fuel economy every six years or so is pretty impressive, so what’s in store for the 2015 Toyota Prius? According to Satoshi Ogiso, Toyota Motor Corporation managing officer, 55mpg is the new target, reflecting another six years of advancement in internal combustion engines, as well as electric motor controls and rechargeable battery technology. Actually, between now and 2015, Toyota plans to update or introduce fifteen hybrid electric vehicles, improving efficiency, performance, and lower costs.
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