Toyota Motor Corporation presented its vision for the future of mobility at this year’s Tokyo Motor (TMS), where three very different new concept cars were revealed.
While some of the vehicles on display represent the development and commercialization of ground-breaking new technologies, others seek to explore and strengthen the emotional bond between car and driver.
Toyota’s commitment to advanced powertrain technology was represented by three models: the all-new Prius, the bold next generation of Toyota’s hybrid pioneer; the Toyota c-Hr concept, a compact hybrid crossover set to go into production soon; and the Toyota FcV Plus, a concept vehicle created with a future hydrogen-based society in mind.
While the three vehicles represent the ever-changing nature of mobility, Toyota also showed two concepts created to reaffirm the fundamental relationship between car and driver with the world premiere of the toyota S-Fr, a fun-to-drive entry-level lightweight sports car, and the debut of the Toyota KIKAI, a design concept that reminds us of the innate beauty of machinery.
One of the three new models — the all-new Prius — will begin selling in Japan at the end of the year, and is subsequently scheduled for successive launches around the world.
Since its launch as the world’s first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle in 1997, the Prius’ outstanding environmental performance and advanced features have set the stage for the growth of hybrid vehicles worldwide. Based on the pursuit of evolution truly worthy of the pioneering Prius brand, the fourth-generation model is Toyota’s first global vehicle to use the Toyota new Global architecture (TnGa), an innovative, integrated development program for powertrain components and vehicle platforms.
The new model inherits its predecessor’s signature triangular silhouette, which combined with a low center of gravity, results in an impressively angular, yet emotional design. The top of the roof has been lowered by 20 millimeters and moved forward, while the hood has also been lowered to create a more stylish outline. All changes have been achieved with no sacrifice to interior space.
A comprehensive program of size and weight reductions for major hybrid components — the transaxle, motor, battery and engine — was achieved. As a result, the Prius has achieved over 40 percent thermal efficiency and gets a huge boost in fuel economy.
Another Japan premiere is the Toyota c-Hr concept, which embodies a new direction in Toyota design, achieving a strong individuality that will get it noticed in the compact crossover market.
The concept is visually distinctive, thanks to its expressive diamond- inspired styling, packed full of eye-catching details that have been sculpted and chamfered to represent the facetted surfaces of a precision-cut gemstone. It builds on two key elements of Toyota’s design language — keen look and under priority — to create a bold, emphatic front profile that emphasizes the lower grille as well as increasing aerodynamic performance, cooling and pedestrian safety.
Like the all-new Prius, the c-Hr concept makes use of TnGa, resulting in a highly-rigid body.
Toyota aims to give the concept an engine with thermal efficiency of over 40 percent, as well as further improving fuel efficiency by making the hybrid system — including the motor and battery — smaller and more lightweight.
The Toyota concept made its first appearance at the 2014 Paris Motor show as a design study, after which an updated five-door model went on display at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Toyota hopes to show a production-ready model at the Geneva International Motor show in March next year.
Fcv Plus in world premiere
As for the Toyota FcV Plus—a world premiere— in addition to its own hydrogen tank, it can also generate electricity directly from hydrogen stored outside the vehicle. This means that the car can be used as a stable source of electric power at home and away.
When the car is not being used as a means of transport, it shares its power generation capabilities with communities as part of the local infrastructure. The car’s fuel cell stack can be reused as an electricity-generating device, transcending the traditional functions of cars. The fuel cell stack is mounted between the front tires, and the hydrogen tank behind the rear seat.
Together with the adoption of independent in-wheel motors in all four wheels, this allows for a spacious cabin despite the vehicle’s compact body.
Continuing Toyota’s heritage
Regarding the other two on display, the Toyota S-Fr is a concept vehicle that continues the proud heritage of Toyota’s fun-to-drive lightweight sports cars. Pitched as an entry-level model, the new concept emphasizes responsiveness and aims to make a whole new generation fall in love with driving. The compact body is incredibly light, yet offers a smooth driving style. Not just a sports car, it pairs the simplicity of an entry- level model with an intimacy that brings human and machine closer together.
The concept’s long nose and wide stance make for a classic sports car profile, while the familiar roundness of its frame inspires a feeling of closeness. The simple and modern finish of the interior rounds off a design that stresses approachable simplicity while conveying the vehicle’s performance and sporty spirit.
Last but not least, in another world debut, the Toyota KIKAI concept is designed to explore and emphasize the fundamental appeal of machines with their fine craftsmanship, beauty, simplicity and fascinating motion. This concept takes the machinery, normally hidden beneath the vehicle body, and puts its beauty on display. In addition to the carefully designed form, continued into details including the fuel tank, reserve tank and exhaust pipes, the analog-style dials and switches offer an engaging interface with the machinery.
Also on display are a test vehicle currently under development with a view to participate in the FIA World Rally Championship and a Land Cruiser used in the Toyota discovery tour, an employee driving project launched in June 2015.