Toyota Prius Launch Postponed

by : KatieJones

The most successful hybrid car in the world ever is scheduled for a redesign according to its maker. Toyota announced that the Prius will undergo a redesign for its third generation. For the third generation of the Prius, it was expected that it would be equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack instead of its current nickel-metal hydride battery.

Earlier this year, Toyota's Chief Executive Officer Katsuaki Watanabe said that: "We are now aiming at reducing, by half, both size and cost of the third-generation hybrid system." The redesigned Prius with the lithium-ion battery pack is expected to hit showrooms by late 2008. Recently though, the Japanese publication Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun reported that Toyota has postponed the launch of the new Prius.

According to reports, Toyota will be introducing the redesigned Prius in the spring of 2009. While Toyota, true to their nature, kept silent as to when they would start the redesign of the Prius, auto industry experts agree that Toyota will commence the remodeling of the Prius late next year.

The report came after speculations that Toyota has rejected the use of lithium-ion batteries for the mean time on the Prius. This means that they will introduce a 2008 model year version of the Prius that will still come equipped with the bulky nickel-metal hydride battery that it is currently equipped with.

But with the recent developments, it appears that Toyota is further assessing the potential and risk of using lithium-ion battery packs. These types of batteries are known for lower weight than nickel-metal hydride batteries. At the same time, lithium-ion batteries store more energy than the current battery packs used on hybrid vehicles.

Toyota is reportedly working with the Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. in developing advanced lithium-ion battery packs for the future model of the Prius. One aspect that Toyota and Matsushita are working on is the safety of the battery. While known for being a lightweight power storage device, the safety of lithium-ion batteries is questioned. In this regard Toyota aims to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries with rugged construction to ensure that it would meet the demand of automotive application.

The vibration created by the engine can jeopardize the battery. Bumps and potholes can also cause vehicles to vibrate - this vibration may damage the lithium-ion battery and can cause malfunctions.

Toyota also announced that they will upgrade the internal combustion engine that comes with the Prius. The current engine used by the Prius is a 1.5-liter engine. For the redesigned Prius, Toyota reported that they would use a bigger 1.8-liter internal combustion engine.

Aside from the changes reported by Toyota, they have yet to announce whether they will radically change the exterior styling of the Prius from its to the front and rear bumpers.

So far, Toyota only has this to say about the upcoming new version of the Prius: "Our policy is to roll out any model when all the conditions are in place."

The Prius is the current best selling hybrid vehicles. It was introduced in Japan in 1997 and from its inception in the market, the vehicle has steadily increased it sales output. Its popularity increased dramatically when it was introduced in the United States auto market. The Prius played an instrumental part in Toyota reaching a milestone of selling 1 million hybrid vehicles.