Toyota Prius: The Dawn of Hybridization
When Toyota started selling Prius in 1997, each sold car, according to experts, brought the company a loss of $ 16,000. For eight years, the model has won a lot of laurels, managed to survive several upgrades and a change of generation, and, nevertheless, the company still suffers losses on this project. What for?
Despite the futuristic stuffing, the Toyota Prius got accustomed in the Urals: today there are several dozen people traveling around the city. The most advanced compatriots are already attached to the latest technologies.
Why did they switch to hybrids?
– Crucial importance when buying a car had fuel consumption, – says Mikhail Podpyatnikov. – I often have to slowly travel around the city at a speed of 25-40 km / h, and the flow rate is 3.5-4.0 liters per 100 km. If you drive, “like everyone else” – 5 liters. But even on the highway at a speed of 150 km / h, when the gasoline engine runs continuously, the flow rate is 6.6 liters per 100 km. Prius more economical in the city than on the highway. The tank capacity is 50 liters, and at one gas station I drive up to 1000 km, and sometimes even more. Very comfortably. The machine immediately has to itself and efficiency, and high reliability. And even in the harsh winter conditions, the power plant works without problems. But there are surprises. Recently passed inspection, inspectors tried to measure the content of CO in the exhaust gases. They say: start the engine. But in the parking lot, the gasoline engine does not work. Ask for gas. I gas, and the Prius is silent. Even if I got under way, the car would still drive a motor for some time. So nothing is measured.
Of course, the samurai intractability of the Prius offended the inspectors, but Mikhail is pleased with this algorithm of the power plant:
– It is very convenient in traffic jams – you drive only on an electric motor, and there is no engine noise.
I also did not miss the opportunity to try the car in action. The Prius starts off smoothly, only the weak hum of the electric motor is heard, and the movement seems unnatural, as if in a dream. You push the pedal harder, and the gasoline engine instantly connects. It does not start, but it turns on: there are no jolts or characteristic starter sounds. For the curious on the screen in the center console displays a diagram of the interaction of units. The role of the transmission is performed by a planetary mechanism connecting the engine, electric motor and generator. There is no reverse gear – the Prius is moving backwards due to electric traction And when the batteries are well charged, the gasoline engine turns on only after 60 km / h. Aggregates conducts computer. Thanks to a tricky scheme, the ICE almost always works in optimal modes. No idle speed or drive with a barely open throttle, when the specific fuel consumption of ordinary cars can pass for 20 l / 100 km. If the motor turns on, it “plows” only on its favorite modes — medium speed and full load. Its power is 58 hp, the weight of the car is 1240 kg. But in the traffic I am not a slow-moving one: with intensive acceleration, 40 hp help out. electric motor. And when braking Prius howls funny. Such sound can be heard in trolley buses, which, when slowed down, switch the traction motor to generator mode. The Prius also behaves in the same way: instead of heating the brakes, part of the braking energy is spent on recharging the battery.
The Toyota Prius is really a “guest from the future.” It can change your idea of what a modern car should be.
The development of an exotic power plant has cost a pretty penny, but in order not to create a stereotype that hybrids are very difficult and expensive, Toyota forcibly keeps prices at an average level for this car segment.
By investing a lot of money now in creating a reputation for its hybrids, Toyota hopes to “beat off the headstock” later, when the fashion for such cars turns into an epidemic. And time is just around the corner: right now, mixed-use cars are on the list of promising developments of all leading automakers.