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Toyota’s Prius, which has become synonymous with economical motoring, turns 20 in October.
Now in its fourth generation, the Prius has sold more than 4 million cars worldwide since its introduction in Japan in 1997, and internationally from 2000. Toyota took the car’s name from Latin meaning “to go before”.
Prius was introduced to New Zealand in 2003 when the second-generation model was launched. Since then Toyota New Zealand has sold more than 4700 new Prius, Prius c and Prius v, while another 6600 have been imported second hand.
Powered by a 1.5 litre petrol engine combined with a nickel-metal hydride battery and electric motor, the Prius was ahead of its time with an innovative way to save fuel 20 years ago.
“The Prius has provided more fuel-efficient motoring for increasing numbers of Kiwis,” said Spencer Morris, Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Product.
“The Prius c has been particularly successful, suiting city and urban driving requirements for private motorists and businesses located in town.”
The 2003 second-generation model was a five-door hatchback with the distinctive aerodynamic styling replacing the conventional sedan shape of 1997.
In 2009, the third-generation Prius came with a 1.8 litre petrol engine which has a lower fuel consumption, aided by an electric water pump, doing away with the fuel-wasting auxiliary drive belt
“The Prius family has helped reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions, said Mr Morris, “It would be good to see the Government offer more encouragement towards fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrids, so we can meet the expectations of the Paris climate change agreement and future carbon reduction requirements.”
Since 2012 the Prius has been joined in the New Zealand market by the Prius c, a smaller compact hatch, with 1900 cars already sold and the seven-seater Prius v with close to 200 sales to the end of July this year.
The latest Prius, launched in 2016, was the first car built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture platform, which is more rigid and provides a lower centre of gravity for better handling and road-holding. The all new body has a drag co-efficient of 0.24, while still retaining the distinctive aerodynamic styling.
Like all previous models, the fourth generation car betters its predecessor’s combined fuel consumption, and is now rated for comparison purposes at 3.4L/100 kms.
World-wide Toyota has now sold more than 10 million hybrid vehicles incorporating the technology pioneered and developed from the first Prius.
In New Zealand that has included nearly 3000 Camry Hybrids, a favourite with taxi operators, putting a real dent in lowering exhaust emissions from vehicles that are on the road all day.
Last year Toyota New Zealand introduced a hybrid version of the country’s most popular passenger car, the Corolla. It has found favour with fleet customers and private motorists for lower operating costs. In just 12 months nearly 500 Corolla Hybrids have been sold.