the next Prius is set to be an evolution, company sources say. The hybrid will retain the same basic 1.5-liter hybrid drivetrain. But Toyota is now on a mission to do two things: drive the economy ratings skyward, and cut the associated costs by 20-30 percent. Toyota was rocked when news seeped out that Honda was planning a low price Fit hybrid for 2008, with the price differential just 200,000 yen (some $1,700) more than the regular gasoline version. So work on the next Prius has redoubled to slash R&D costs and halve Toyota’s current hybrid differential of 500,000 yen (some $4,240) to compete.
Sources say the next Prius will also be able to run longer and faster in pure electric mode, up to a sustained 30 mph, which will significantly extend its zero-emissions range. The gains will largely come from replacing the current Prius’ nickel-hydride batteries with lithium ion cells.
Lower costs for adding hybriding to cars means faster return on investment from fuel efficiency and the ability to mix several improvements at an affordable cost. $1700 for hybrid to get to 100mpg and then $100 for diesel to get to perhaps 150mpg or adding plug in options.