Toyota managing officer Satoshi Ogiso has promised a new era in hybrid technology with the arrival of the fourth generation Prius in 2015.
The company planned to introduce 15 new or redesigned hybrid vehicles globally by the end of 2015, he said, with new hybrid powertrains delivering significantly reduced fuel consumption in a lighter, more compact package.
"In its three generations, we've reduced the fuel consumption of the Prius about 10 percent with each generation," he said. "To continue to improve at this rate - to beat your own record - becomes very difficult, but makes it all the more motivating."
NEW BATTERY TECHNOLOGIES
The next Prius will have batteries with higher energy density, while Toyota is also developing new battery technologies, such as solid state and lithium air, and investigating chemistries beyond lithium, such as magnesium and other low-valence metals.
The 2015 Prius' electric motors will also be more compact; Ogiso pointed out that the motor in the third-generation Prius produced four times the power density of the first model, saying "the next will be even higher".
Even the petrol engines, he said, would be more efficient, with a thermal efficiency of more than 40 percent, compared to the 38.5 percent of the current Prius' engine, while the car would be built on a new platform that promised a lower centre of gravity and increased structural rigidity.
Ogiso added that a plug-in version of the new Prius was being developed alongside the standard model, to address requests from current PHV owners for improved pure-electric range and more convenient charging - including an inductive charging system that uses magnetic resonance between a coil on the floor of the garage and a coil in the car to charge the battery without a cable - in effect, a plug-in hybrid that doesn't need to be plugged in.
A near-production concept for a mid-sized, four-door hydrogen fuel cell-powered sedan will also be on display at the Tokyo motor show, and will make its American debut in January at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.