Toyota Prius, although not the first hybrid, is certainly the most well-known and best-selling hybrid in the US. While sporting class-leading fuel economy, some people are still a little put off by its appearance and lack of all-wheel drive, especially in the northeast US, where the winters are harsh, and the fuel is expensive.
A couple of other Prius have spawned off the main model, including the larger Prius V wagon, a Prius Plug-In version, and the smaller Prius c. Insiders say, “the next Prius will redefine hybrid as we know it.”
The next-generation Prius looks to be built off the smaller Prius c platform, reducing weight by up to 150 pounds and increasing agility. It will probably have some variation of the current Hybrid Synergy Drive, which includes a 98 hp inline four-cylinder engine coupled with a 100 kW electric motor. Toyota seems to be sticking with its current nickel-metal hydride [NiMH] rechargeable battery.
Additionally, the new Prius will get some variation of the e-AWD system, as seen on the Lexus RX 400h, with an electric motor driving the rear axle. Operating at speeds up to 37 mph, the addition of all-wheel drive will certainly be appealing to drivers on slippery roads who still want to save money on fuel. With all these changes, the new Prius will be more attractive, and probably have a fuel economy somewhere close to 70 mpg.system, even though the newer lithium-ion [Li-ion] batteries are more energy-dense.