Is the Toyota Prius really a special car, or is it all just hype to get us to buy into a "green" technology that really is not green at all? I have labored time and again thinking about this car and its actual environmental impact.
I have come up with a few things that tell me Prius is a special car and why it was needed in the day and age we all live in now. Here is my take on why Prius is an extraordinary car in our world.
Modern Technology For A Modern Age
When Toyota announced a hybrid car, the automotive industry as a whole almost fell off the chair it was sitting on. Prius is a completely unique and different vehicle than we had ever seen before in the late '90s. It honestly upset everything we now know about electric and gasoline cars.
The smooth combination of both electric and gasoline in a vehicle was something many car makers disregarded as possible. You either had one or the other; there was nothing in between. After GM killed the EV-1, owners were heartbroken, and there was a void left to be filled from the car they all cherished.
Toyota could not have poised the launch of Prius at a better time for it to absolutely nail the success it found. The first thing that makes Prius unique is that it fills a niche that was needed when it demanded change. Prius found a home with those who needed a "bridge" into an EV future.
The technology Prius possessed was also revolutionary. Insulated Gate Bi-Polar Transistors or IGBT, known in Toyota lingo, allowed for high current fast switching between the charge and discharge of the electric motors onboard.
Even the later model Prius with an all-electric A/C compressor is nothing short of a miracle. To have an engine that is shut off and keep the cabin cool during the sweltering summer heat is incredible. All while using little to no fuel.
There are plenty of other things that make Prius special. The 3rd Generation solar roof is pretty wild. Keeping air moving on a hot summer day, so your cabin stays fresh. That had never been done before at all.
Prius certainly has its own downfalls. The needed batteries have cost the earth to cough up more than its fair share of nickel to produce the HV batteries we use in these cars. Toyota has not stopped putting Nickel Metal in their cars either. The most recent announcement of Tundra Hybrid will utilize NiMH technology as a "tried and true" method of power.
Prius is meant to be a bridge into better and more sustainable transportation options for the future. The car is special because it has allowed more companies to think differently about how we get around.
There will always be an environmental impact with whatever we drive, "green" car or not. Raw materials will always have to be mined from somewhere, even if recycling efforts are far better than they have ever been.
What do you think? Is Prius really as special as many think it is? It has indeed bridged the gap for us in many ways that I have not listed. Tell me what you think.
That is all for today. Remember Today's Adventure is Tomorrow's Story.
Check out this wild new battery tech that Tesla has and why it will forever change the auto industry.
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Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting. Read more of Peter's stories at Toyota news coverage on Torque News. Search Toyota Prius Torque News for more in depth Prius coverage from our reporter.