Toyota's global fleet of 23 hybrid vehicles.Photo courtesy Toyota Motor Corp.

Toyota's global fleet of 23 hybrid vehicles.
Photo courtesy Toyota Motor Corp.

Toyota executives gathered Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 at the Toyota 2013 Toyota Hybrid World Tour in Ypsilanti, Mich., to announce Toyota's alternative-fuel mobility strategy. They provided details on the next-generation Prius hybrid, the next-gen Prius Plug-In Hybrid (PHV), and Toyota's planned commercially available fuel cell vehicle.

Satoshi Ogiso, managing officer, Toyota Motor Corp., said the next-generation PHV is being developed in parallel with the standard Prius model. Looking to the future, Toyota plans to build hybrid powertrains with improved fuel economy in a more compact package that is lighter in weight and lower in cost. Between now and the end of 2015, Toyota plans to introduce 15 new or redesigned hybrid vehicles globally.

The next-generation Prius will utilize the automaker’s Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which features a lower center of gravity and increased structural rigidity, according to the Ogiso. Toyota stated the new architecture will contribute to improved driving dynamics. Ogiso added that the next-gen Prius will feature improved aerodynamics, a roomier interior, and significant refinements in design, layout, and ease of operation.

Toyota's advanced fuel vehicles: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, natural gas hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell hybrid.Photo courtesy Toyota Motor Corp.

Toyota's advanced fuel vehicles: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, natural gas hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell hybrid.
Photo courtesy Toyota Motor Corp.

Toyota is developing improved batteries with higher energy density for the next-generation Prius hybrid. Specifically, Toyota is researching and developing nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion battery technologies for the vehicle and plans to use them “where appropriate,” Ogiso said. The automaker is also developing new battery technologies that use non-lithium chemistries, such as magnesium and other low-valence materials.

The Toyota Prius became the cornerstone of a broad range of Toyota vehicles with its "simple two motors, a planetary gear set, and its highly complicated software," Ogiso said. And, in its three generations, the Prius’ mpg has improved on average by about 10 percent, each generation.

Regarding the planned next-generation Prius PHV, Ogiso said the automaker is developing wireless vehicle charging technology to improve ease of use. The system uses inductive charging to produce resonance between an on-floor coil and a coil on the vehicle.

Toyota also provided new details on its first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, which the company stated will go on sale in global markets in 2015. Toyota plans to show a new mid-size four-door sedan concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in November and then in North America at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell stack is currently developing 3 kw per liter of power density, Ogiso said. Toyota’s Bob Carter, senior vice president, automotive operations, Toyota Motor Corp., said that the hydrogen fuel cell will utilize core hybrid technology and will be a primary element of Toyota’s future mobility strategy.

With the total hybrid marketshare making up 4 percent of vehicle sales, according to Toyota, the company has successfully penetrated the market, having sold more than 5 million hybrids globally, according to Carter. And, Carter said the automaker’s goal is to sell 5 million more hybrids in the U.S. alone by 2016. He added that Toyota accounts for more than 60 percent of U.S. hybrid sales and 70 percent of the nearly 3 million hybrids on U.S. roads today.