Looking back over automotive history from an objective viewpoint reveals a dramatic progression. Horse carriages gave way to steam engines before finally giving way to internal combustion engines.
But this trend seems to be changing; hybrid vehicles have emerged as a breakthrough technology.
It may seem like long ago now, but 2000 was an eventful year in many respects: Gladiator was at the top of box office charts; Bill Clinton was president; and the inaugural season of Survivor premiered on television. But this was also when something significant made its debut here in Canada: Toyota Prius became mass produced hybrid car!
Prius wasn’t always popular among its original viewers; some found its exterior strange or unattractive; moreover, its acceleration time from zero to 60 mph took almost 13 seconds compared to similar cars of its day. But over time, Prius became widely accepted.
Toyota had persevered. Their second generation Prius proved far more aesthetically pleasing and its hybrid technology advanced greatly compared to its predecessor. Though expensive and slow in terms of start up time, this managed to significantly increase EPA gas mileage ratings.
The third generation Prius brought many improvements over its predecessor model, including an all-wheel-drive e-system that combined petrol engine and electric motor powering the front wheels to make driving more comfortable and enjoyable. Additionally, this version came equipped with Toyota Safety Sense P and a larger touchscreen infotainment system.
In 2009, the fourth generation Prius was launched. This car featured an entirely redesigned exterior to make it look more contemporary and attractive while adding new features like an Eco-Drive meter that lets drivers know exactly how efficient their driving is; and an updated Hybrid Synergy Drive system which works to improve both high-speed fuel efficiency and low-speed torque output.
Although not for everyone, the Prius has become the standard in high fuel economy vehicles in California where public and freeway lanes are set aside specifically for hybrid vehicles.
The Toyota Prius+
The initial Prius generation wasn’t exactly eye-catching. After years of hard development work had led to its creation, a hacked out Echo compact sedan had been fitted with an electric powertrain and given a peculiar name – but consumers loved it nonetheless! Gas-electric drivetrain provided excellent fuel economy with minimal emissions while its second-gen model released in 2003 further cemented the car’s popularity.
As the Prius became the leader of hybrid vehicles, its fame spread further. Celebrities began driving them instead of limousines and it appeared in movies and TV shows; gossip magazines published pictures of Cameron Diaz taking her eco-friendly Prius for runs around town and picking up coffee at cafes. Furthermore, eco-conscious fashion found an outlet through using this vehicle to express themselves – people would use the Prius to make statements about their lifestyles through fashion!
Toyota refined the vehicle design of its third-generation Prius before it hit the market, in 2009, to reduce drag coefficient and enhance high-speed handling. Total horsepower had increased to 98 thanks to a more powerful 1.8-liter gasoline engine and smaller yet more energy-efficient traction motor; combined mpg was upped to 50 and further established its dominance as an affordable hybrid option.
Over the past decade, Toyota Prius sales have outshone all other hybrid cars combined. Not without its flaws, but still an appealing choice among shoppers who wanted to do their part for both the environment and their wallet.
Now the fifth-generation Prius has hit showrooms and continues to lead in fuel efficiency with an EPA rating of 51 mpg combined. Boasting an appealing appearance that sets itself apart from its egg-shaped predecessors, this vehicle marks Toyota’s debut of their plug-in hybrid version, which can be recharged at home or via public charging stations for even greater range and acceleration compared to other luxury cars like Bugattis and Shelby Mustangs.