2001 Toyota Prius Gas Saver Base Sedan 4-door 1.5l Blue on 2040-cars
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Auto blogFri, 01 Oct 2010 08:59:00 EST
Toyota is looking to get bigger... by going smaller. The Japanese automaker is looking to enter the kei car market, a popular segment in its homeland. Kei cars are small vehicles with restrictions on length (11.15 feet), width (4.86 feet), engine size (660 cubic centimeters) and power output (63 horsepower). Currently, Toyota is the only Japanese automaker not producing vehicles for this segment, but that is set to change, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Thanks to its relationship with Daihatsu, Toyota can jump right into the kei car game. Daihatsu is one of the largest producer of kei vehicles and it is currently owned by Toyota.
Although kei cars are restricted in terms of size and power, they are not restricted by technology. Automakers utilize different drive configurations, powertrains and amenities to keep their cars fresh. Daihatsu and Toyota plan to work together to produce Toyota-branded kei cars. The two companies will utilize Toyota's knowledge of electric and hybrid systems to produce efficient little vehicles for the Japanese market.
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The Toyota Prius is undeniably the king of the hybrid market in the United States, with a 39.4 percent market share in 2013. With the next-generation Prius likely to go on sale in 2015, Toyota is trying to build an even more efficient hybrid to keep its control of the market.
Keeping cost down will be one of the major concerns of the new Prius. The next generation will ride on the new, modular Toyota New Global Architecture platform. The lighter underpinnings will improve efficiency and will reduce production costs by allowing for more shared components among vehicles. Toyota will not reveal how many vehicles will use the new platform. But even with the cheaper platform, price will remain a concern. Toyota is still deciding whether all versions of the next Prius will use lithium-ion batteries or whether some models will stick with the heavier nickel-metal hydride batteries to keep cost down.
Of course, the reason most people buy the Prius is because of its great fuel efficiency. Toyota will aim for at least an 8 percent improvement in fuel economy in the next Prius, which would increase it to 58 miles per gallon city and 52 mpg highway.