Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius

Looks like states are finally jumping on the autonomous-driving bandwagon, but this time it has a little “oomph” behind it. Having Nevada pass a bill specifically to allow and regulate automated driving was great, but this time it’s California that gave it the green light. California’s driving and automotive laws have always had a big influence on federal laws – except lane splitting, thank goodness – so chances are more states will follow and the NHTSA will eventually jump on board.

The thing to remember here is that this bill was not to allow autonomous cars to drive on California roads, as California has no laws barring self-driving cars. This law is to govern the production and testing of these cars in hopes of giving manufacturers a clear set of rules regarding these cars, which may press more automakers into this realm.

The first thing that California cleared up is defining an autonomous vehicle. This is any vehicle that can drive without any human intervention, so this eliminates Cadillac’s self-driving car for now and leaves only the Google car (seen in the above video). It also specifies that it is legal to manufacture your own autonomous car and drive it on California highways, which is an interesting topic of debate.

The bill goes on to state that the car must have a licensed driver in the driver’s seat and that driver must be designated by the car’s builder as a legal driver for said vehicle. The only exception to this rule is on a closed course. The manufacturer must also have an insurance policy or bond in the amount of $5 million prior to testing the vehicle. From there the bill goes on to define what safety issues the manufacturer, car, and driver must comply with.

Keep in mind that this is only the first step for this bill, as it must pass the State Assembly next. Given the bill passed 37 – 0, we doubt it will be held up.

Click past the jump to read the bill. Yes, it is in regular English, not “politicianese.”

Autonomous cars have been gaining a lot of headlines recently with all of their testing and new state laws being enacted to allow their testing. One of the forerunners in this technology is, of all companies, Google. Google has been in the autonomous car testing project since 2010 and has logged more than 200,000 miles of automated driving.

That’s not the impressive thing, as Google recently had its first ever non-Google-employed test driver. To boot, this driver only has about 5% of his vision remaining. That’s right, Steve Mahan, this brave blind man, took a Toyota Prius fitted with Google’s automated driving doodads and went out for a spin.

Now, if you were legally blind and were driving for the first time in many years, where would you go? Maybe you would head to a nice restaurant, to visit relatives, or even to a friend’s house. Nope, not Steve, he immediately rode in the driver’s seat of this automated Prius to the nearest Taco Bell drive-thru, maybe that’s all Google has left in its testing budget for these cars. He grabbed a Taco, then headed off to pick up some dry cleaning.

The car performed well and Steve seems very happy to be in the driver’s seat again. He even added in the obligatory “Look mom, no hands” joke. The only thing we could see that this Prius did poorly was park, as it seemed to be parked at an angle when it stopped at the dry cleaners and when Steve parked it in his driveway.

Autonomous cars are cool, but will people ever warm up to them? We would be pretty nervous about the chances of the computer suddenly crashing and deciding to run the car head-on into traffic. Then again, if Toyota fills the Prius with foam during an accident, like Demolition Man, you’d never have to worry about getting hurt.

Source: Google

When we first saw the Subaru BRZ GT300 race car at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show , the immediate question that popped into our heads was, "What’s Toyota’s answer for this?"

Images of the Toyota 86 built to Super GT specifications immediately entered our imaginations, but from what we’ve been hearing, the Japanese automaker will be fielding a different Super GT car for next season.

There have been no official statements from Toyota yet, but a sketch in the Japanese publication, Auto Sport Magazine, gave us clues as to what Toyota is preparing for the 2012 Super GT season.

It’s a Toyota Prius GT300 race car.

At first, it was hard to recognize the Prius-ness of the race car because it looks so wonderfully beautiful, but if you look a little closer, hints and traces of the Prius are clearly visible. The Prius GT300 is expected to be tweaked to adhere to Super GT regulations, so you can expect the full boat of racing modifications. That includes a tweaked powertrain that will produce 300 horsepower, as well as a stripped down interior that will only feature racing elements like the sport sets, transmission, and the full body roll cage.

Further details of the Prius GT300 race car are expected to be announced soon. In the meantime, you can check out the sketch that was published in Auto Sport Magazine to give you an idea of what the car is going to look like.

Source: Jon Sibal

Set among the many debuts Toyota has planned for the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show is the G’s Prius, a sportier and far more aggressive take on the Japanese automaker’s resident hybrid car.

Toyota has yet to reveal the full specs regarding the car, but it certainly looks like this model is an evolution of the Prius G Sports Concept that the company unveiled at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.

Of the details we do have of the G’s Prius, we can tell you that the model has a White Pearl Crystal Shine exterior finish with red and black decorated stripes running along both sides of the car. One thing we’re thankful of, as far as the G’s Prius is concerned, is that Toyota opted for a more traditional look as opposed to the oddly-designed, rear-tire covered Prius G Concept. The interior of the G’s Prius also got a few styling tweaks in the form of a revised steering wheel, Recaro sport seats dressed in black leather with matching red stitching, a new information display, and aluminum pedals.

Under its hood, the G’s Prius will come with the same power train as that of a standard Prius so expect a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an Electronic Continuously Variable transmission. This setup produces 99 horsepower and 105 lb/ft of torque matched to an electric motor that produces 82 horsepower.

While everyone’s eyes are focused on the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota has announced details on their line-up for the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show. One of the models to be displayed in Tokyo is a new version for the Prius family. After its debut in Tokyo, the Prius C will be making its North American debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

The new Prius C will be using Toyota’s renowned Hybrid Synergy Drive technology and will deliver a fuel economy of 50 mpg in the city, which is the highest city mpg of any non-plug-in vehicle. The new Prius C will bring a more youthful expression and a sportier dynamic character that offers a more fun-to-drive experience.

The model will also be offered with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, steering-wheel audio controls, and nine airbags as standard features. That being said, one of the most impressive features of the new Prius C is the addition of the new Toyota Entune multimedia system that allows users to connect with popular apps such as Bing, OpenTable.com, and movietickets.com.

UPDATE 02/08/2012: Toyta has announced that the new Prius c will go on sale on the US market in March 2012. The Prius c One will be priced at $18,950, the Prius c Two at $19,900, the Prius c Three at $21,635, and the Prius c Four at $23,230.

Toyota will be expanding the Prius family with the addition of three new models set to be launched in the next three years. This decision has been made in an attempt to make the Prius a standalone brand. All the new models will be put on sale by 2014 and will consist of a sports coupe, an SUV, and a replacement for the current sedan.

The new Prius hatchback has already been seen in concept form at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. It will be stripped of the current blade-like headlamps and distinctive LED running lights, as well as the bold indent running down the flanks, to maintain a more conversation design.

The new Sports Coupe model will be built on the same rear-wheel-drive platform as the next generation Lexus GS . It will get a new plug-in hybrid set-up featuring lithium-ion batteries, and will be offered with a manual gearbox. It will be easily recognized as a Prius, but it will feature a more conservative design and a sportier appearance. The new Prius SUV will also be arriving and will be based off of the Toyota RAV4 . It will come with either the latest Hybrid Synergy Drive set-up or a modified version of the future Sports Coupe’s plug-in drivetrain.

Source: AutoExpress
Posted on by Matt McDonald 21

Throughout the past several weeks the economy of the United States and other large importers of oil have struggled to maintain positive amidst the turmoil in the middle-east. Civil unrest and pressure have led to a decrease in oil production and increase in the price for a single barrel. We have seen prices reach the $100 mark and beyond, and there are no signs of a ceiling.

These two year highs for the price of crude oil have led to OPEC releasing more supplies from our reserves, but it has not quelled the price hike. California is currently suffering from the highest prices nationwide and they have reached within a cent of $4.00 per gallon for regular unleaded. This has put added strain on a struggling economic environment for many people and, if this continues, it will drag our economy further down. With cars like the Toyota Prius and other hybrids hitting the market every week, it is good to see that the manufacturers are realizing that gasoline will not be the answer to our future problems.

The major auto shows and car introductions across the world, including the biggest in the United States, Detroit, are where auto manufacturers try to sell the public hot-air. Most of the amazing and futuristic concept cars are so far on the other side of being a production possibility they might as well be alien. The recent economic climate across the world has shifted the car companies in a new direction and the consumer continues to pull them even further. People are eager for cars that are economical and exciting – most people enjoy driving, just not having to pay $4.00 per gallon to do it.

Toyota has brought out the big electric guns to the Detroit Auto Show with the new Prius family, including the new Prius c Concept. With the "c" standing for "city"-centric vehicle, the new concept is a preview version of a future Prius model that aims to young singles and couples who want an eco-sensitive, high-mileage, fun-to-drive car.

Toyota hasn’t exactly offered many details on this concept, but they did confirm that it offers outstanding fuel efficiency and a surprisingly spacious interior. It will include many advanced technology features, including some offered on the current Prius. Like with all the other Prius models in the line-up, the c Concept will share the current generation Prius’ platform and Hybrid Synergy Drive technology.

The Prius c Concept is the inspiration for an additional Prius family member that will come to market in the first half of 2012 as the most value-oriented hybrid in the U.S. market with the highest mileage of any "cordless" hybrid.

We are not exactly as thrilled about the new Prius line as Toyota is, especially with so many up and coming hybrids on the market, but it’s nice to know that Toyota isn’t going to go down easy.

That being said, head on over after the jump to catch some details on the Prius c Concept.

The second production version added to the Toyota Prius family is the new "v" version revealed at the Detroit Auto Show. With "v" expressing the vehicle’s versatility, the new Prius v will combine the practicability of a minivan with the hybrid drivetrain of a Prius hatchback model.

The new "v" version is built on the same platform as the first Prius, but promises a 50% space increase inside its cabin. The car also has a low 0.29 coefficient of drag, all while being produced in an evolutionaryPrius design.

The car is identical to its hatchback brother: the same exterior design language, the same hybrid drive train under the hood that delivers a total of 40 mpg, and the same technology for the interior that includes an Entune multimedia system which supports mobile apps such as Bing, OpenTable, and movietickets.com.

Hit the jump to read more about the 2012 Toyota Prius v.

Automakers from all over showed up to the 2010 SEMA Show with a slew of accessories to slap on to their existing models. Jaguar has their Black Pack , Chevrolet has their Z-Spec , and now we get Toyota with their Plus Performance Package. The future Plus brand of accessories will be available in limited production beginning in April 2011. Showcasing their future line of accessories in the hybrid Prius.

The Prius Plus Performance Package features a seven-piece aerodynamic body kit that includes a uniquely styled rear diffuser, which enhances its already sleek appearance and maintains its 0.25 coefficient of drag. The aero kit also includes front and rear bumper spoilers and side skirts. The whole package is finished by race-inspired 17-inch forged wheels.

The package also includes sport-tuned lowering springs that provide a lower center of gravity, enhancing the vehicles on-road performance through quicker turn-in, enhanced steering response, and improved cornering ability. A rear sway bar is added to reduce body roll for flatter, more stable cornering and maneuverability. And of course lets not forget the "Plus" logo on both the exterior and interior.

Press release after the jump.


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