Toyota launches world's most fuel-efficient hybrid compact 'Aqua'

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has launched the world's most fuel-efficient gasoline-electric compact hybrid car in Japan, as the company gears itself to competition from pure electric vehicles.

The compact car, labelled 'Aqua' in Japan and the 'Prius C' overseas, has a listed fuel efficiency of 35.4 km/litre, ahead of the current top Prius, which gets 32 km/litre.

The Aqua incorporates 17 years of Toyota expertise and technology in the development of mass-produced hybrid vehicles, and boasts a small, light and efficient hybrid system.

Toyota is aiming for monthly Aqua sales in Japan of 12,000 units, with a starting price of 1.69 million yen having its assembly plant located at Iwate Plant, Kanto Auto Works, Ltd.

TMC dominates the hybrid field and has plans to launch about 10 new gasoline-electric models by 2015 and offer a fuel-sipping option across its entire line-up around 2020.

In expectation of strong demand from emerging markets, Toyota Motor Corp, Japan's biggest carmaker, plans to boost its global production output by 20 per cent to a record 8.65 million vehicles in 2012. (See: Toyota to raise 2012 production to record high; plans merger of three group entities) 

The Aqua combines a comfortable and roomy interior with a stylish body, and displays exciting acceleration and agility, the company statement said.

The Aqua features a state-of-the-art, small, light and efficient 1.5-liter Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) with reduction gear, which achieves a fuel efficiency.

A cooled Exhaust-Gas Recirculation (EGR) system fitted helps improve the efficiency in the high-expansion-ratio Atkinson cycle engine.  A battery-powered water pump, a friction-reducing beltless design and precise coolant-water-flow volume control helps increase the engine efficiency

The hybrid transaxle, which includes the power control unit, the power-generation motor and drive motor, has also been designed to be small and light.

A selectable electric-vehicle mode (EV Mode) enables driving with only the electric motor.

The vehicle comes in ten vibrant and stylish body colors, including new Citrus Orange Mica Metallic and Lime White Pearl Crystal Shine.

The instrument panel structure has a distinctive and effective accent color placement with a bright interior and is available in four patterns: Earth Brown, Fresh Green, Cool Blue, and Natural Gray.

The hybrid battery is placed under the rear seat, resulting in a spacious cargo area of 305 liters.

In addition to a long 2,550 mm wheelbase, the hybrid unit and engine are positioned to create a low centre of gravity for superior manoeuvering performance.

According to TMC the engine and motor power combine provide smooth acceleration from standstill to 100 km/h in 10.7 seconds and also at mid-range speeds, such as from 40 km/h to 70 km/h in 3.6 seconds.

Aqua also boasts excellent manoeuverability with a minimum turning radius of 4.8 meters.

The instrument panel sports a myriad of functions that support environment-conscious and enjoyable driving.  The Hybrid System Indicator offers easy-to-understand information concerning eco-driving, such as effective accelerator use.
 
In addition to the standard display, an optional high-resolution thin-film-transistor liquid crystal multi-information display provides a variety of eco-driving information.  Eco Judge ranks eco-driving on a 100-point scale, and Eco Wallet shows money saved as compared with other levels of fuel efficiency.

The car is provided with 'electronic brake-force distribution' (EBD) which maximises braking performance, distributing braking force between the front and rear wheels according to driving conditions.  Also, a brake assist function generates extra braking force to assist the driver in emergency braking situations.

The Aqua has a vehicle stability control which controls brake and engine output to maintain vehicle stability in case of skidding and traction control helps control wheel spin to simplify acceleration operation.

A hill-start assist control provided in the car helps reduces anxiety about the vehicle rolling backwards when starting on a steep incline.

Automatic air conditioning comes standard on all models and is equipped with an electric inverter compressor run by the electric motor, enabling a comfortably air-conditioned interior even when the engine is off.

In addition to seat heaters, the exhaust heat recirculation system draws heat from the engine directly into the cooling water, enhancing heating performance and fuel efficiency in the winter.