Toyota’s multiple award-winning petrol-electric hybrid, Prius, will be launched at the Auto Africa Show in October and become available on the local market early next year.

Toyota’s multiple award-winning petrol-electric hybrid, Prius, will be launched at the Auto Africa Show in October and become available on the local market early next year.


“We’re absolutely thrilled to be introducing the new-generation Toyota Prius to South Africa, and especially at a time when there is a major focus on safeguarding the environment,” said Toyota SA president and chief executive Johan van Zyl.


The Prius has been named North American Car of the Year for 2004, 2004 Family Car of the Year and Best Engineered Vehicle 2004. Furthermore, the 1,5-litre internal combustion engine/electric motor combination as housed in the Prius scooped the prizes for the Best New Engine of 2004, Best Fuel Economy Engine, and Best 1,4-litre to 1,8-litre. The jury comprising 56 motor journalists also voted the Prius engine the overall International Engine of the Year winner.


To tackle an incline or fast-flowing traffic, the electric motor acts like a turbo, feeding its maximum output of 50 kW into the powertrain, giving the Prius an overall output of 82 kW and 478 N.m of torque. In addition, the Prius, which is capable of a 160-km/h top speed and zero to 100 km/h time of 10,9 seconds, is said to consume an average of 4,2 litres per 100 km.


In EV (electric vehicle) driving mode, a driver can power the vehicle by use of only the electric motor (resulting in zero emissions and very low noise levels. There is no need for charging the sophisticated battery pack from an external source – battery charging is incorporated into the overall electronic controls, using the petrol engine and regenerative braking as charging sources.


The Prius is said to rely entirely on an electric/electronic circuit to co-ordinate the power steering, braking, traction and vehicle stability control systems. In terms of safety the Prius was the first hybrid car to be submitted to the Euro NCAP test procedure and it scored a five-star safety rating.


“The Prius will be the vehicle with the greenest credentials in South Africa, but with sky-high demand in its major overseas markets, local numbers will be limited,” Van Zyl said.


The new-generation Prius, which replaced the previous version first launched in 1997, has sold well in Japan, the United States, Europe and Australia. Already more than 200 000 have been sold worldwide and, as CARtoday.com reported recently, production will be ramped up to 15 000 units a month next year.


The Prius can bask in the fame of Hollywood glitterati, too… Cameron Diaz, Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep all own a Prius. Leonardo DiCaprio has three of them.