Toyota continues to perfect the drive system that has vaulted the Prius to the top of the hybrid vehicle market. The latest hybrid from Toyota is the Aqua, a compact car that was recently released in Japan. This hybrid compact will soon be released in the United States as the Prius c to leverage that model’s popularity among American consumers. Toyota notes that the monthly sales goal for the Aqua Hybrid is 12,000 vehicles, showing a confidence in the automaker’s productive capacity. The suggested retail price for this latest Toyota hybrid is $21,685.
The Aqua Hybrid borrows a few tricks from the Prius while adding some new touches. Toyota kept features like Vehicle Stability Control and Electronic Brake-force Distribution that distinguish the Prius from other hybrids. The Exhaust-Gas Recirculation (EGR) feature in the Aqua Hybrid boosts fuel efficient by collecting exhaust energy for reuse. Drivers can travel a few miles on all-electric power by simply pressing the EV Mode button on the dashboard vehicle display. The Hybrid System Indicator by Toyota includes the Eco Judge, a program that ranks a driver’s habits from 0 to 100.
Fuel economy and power estimates demonstrate the Aqua Hybrid’s ability to keep up with the pack. The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism certified a fuel economy rating of 83.3 miles per gallon. Toyota estimates that the Aqua Hybrid can hit 60 miles per hour from a dead stop in 10.7 seconds. This estimate includes a 25 MPH to 40 MPH time of 3.6 seconds, indicating enough power to reach speed limits in urban areas. Families and small businesses can access eco-friendly transportation without sacrificing cargo room thanks to the Aqua’s 10.8 cubic feet of cargo space.
Toyota and other Japanese automakers have faced long odds in staying competitive in the global auto industry. The reduction of production capacity during last year’s earthquake along with sluggish parts imports caused Toyota to fall behind schedule. A strong yen has forced Japanese automakers to consider measures that would make their cars more affordable to foreign consumers. The Toyota Prius has also been diminished in the past year due to the recall of earlier versions for steering and brake problems. The Aqua Hybrid hopefully acts as a dividing line between the Japanese auto industry’s recent struggles and a bright future for innovative vehicle design.