It’s mere weeks until Toyota’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle, Prius Plug-in Hybrid, goes on sale in the UK – but already Toyota is looking ahead.
Today, Toyota revealed the NS4 advanced plug-in hybrid concept vehicle – a concept exemplifying Toyota’s vision for future mobility, with a focus on next generation connectivity and safety – at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
Jim Lentz, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Motor Sales US (Inc.) said, “In this digital age, cars are becoming another spoke in the wheel of our electronic connectivity. NS4 demonstrates Toyota’s take on the human connection to the car with technology that considers both emotional and rational relationships, person-to-car and car-to-society.”
NS4’s advanced powertrain targets a hybrid plug-in system featuring reductions in component size and weight with improved overall fuel economy, better acceleration and longer all-electric range, while maintaining a short charge time.
The NS4 concept signals a new styling direction for Toyota aimed at making an emotional connection with consumers. The distinctive trapezoid grille is accented by a floating lower spoiler and distinctive daytime running lights. Rear lamps wrap around the sides of the vehicle, and create the effect of a rear spoiler. The roof line profile, lift back design and powered swan-wing doors create greater accessibility and efficient functionality.
Advanced in-car connectivity
Traditional vehicle development cycles average four years, but this is rapidly changing with the introduction of more technological innovations. Vehicles have become another communication hub in the consumer’s lifestyle, and are the third-fastest growing technological device, behind smartphones and tablets. Toyota has formed special alliances with technology leaders such as Microsoft, Intel and Salesforce to explore the creation of seamless vehicle interfaces with emerging technologies. These alliances will ensure Toyota is at the forefront of this emerging sector of the automotive market.
The NS4 concept’s human-machine interface (HMI) is centred around a multi-touch screen with the look and feel of a smartphone. The simple, intuitive operation conveys information quickly while minimising distractions and maximising driver awareness. The multimedia and vehicle-controls enhancement will also direct air conditioning, audio, battery-charge and navigation functions. The HMI system is even capable of “learning” driver preferences to anticipate driver responses in specific environments and situations.
The next evolution of Toyota safety systems
The NS4 features Toyota’s latest safety system developments, including next generation pre-collision system (PCS), adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights, and blind spot monitor (BSM). PCS features lane departure and pedestrian collision avoidance technologies designed to predict collisions under certain circumstances and help avoid them. The system uses millimetre-wave radar and stereo cameras mounted on the front of the vehicle to detect and react to lane departure, pedestrians, and other vehicles. In the event of a potential collision, the system seeks to avoid other vehicles, road-side obstructions and pedestrians by applying the brakes and manipulating steering.
Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) headlights help to prevent vision-impairing glare to oncoming drivers and pedestrians. Using a camera mounted behind the front grille and partial shielding inside the headlights, this feature allows drivers to maintain near-high beam illumination to improve nighttime visibility.
Using sub-millimetre wave radar, the Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) detects a vehicle in the adjacent lane and visually alerts the driver using visual indicators placed in the upper dash.
The pop-up bonnet structure automatically raises the rear of the hood to increase the space underneath, helping to reduce pedestrian head injuries caused by a collision with the front of the vehicle. This innovation is the result of testing and verification using both conventional crash-test dummies and Toyota’s Total Human Model for Safety (THUMS) finite element model.
Glass Technology to maximize aerodynamic efficiency and driver comfort
Four new glass technologies are integrated into the windscreen, front and rear windows to improve driver visibility, fuel economy and electric driving mode mileage efficiency:
– Rain-resistant ‘hydrophobic’ coating – Fluorine coated glass causes raindrops to form into semispherical shapes for improved visibility and rain drop elimination.
– ‘Anti-fog’ coating – High performance resin material with anti-fogging characteristics and increased durability.
– High ultraviolet (UV) absorbing inner-layer – Removes 99 per cent of harmful UVA and UVB rays
– Anti-solar film with radio-wave transparency – Reduces the internal vehicle temperature and improves electronic device functionality
Inner and outer rear view mirrors have been replaced with cameras that provide the driver with a panoramic view to the rear. The rear-view camera displays images on a dashboard-mounted screen, and provides the driver with a much wider field of vision when compared to a traditional rear view mirror.
Jim Lentz concluded the unveiling of the NS4, saying, “The continued success of our conventional hybrid vehicles laid strong groundwork for market acceptance of future advanced technologies. NS4 demonstrates Toyota’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the safety, efficiency, and convenience of future mobility for people everywhere.”
For more images of NS4, visit our Flickr set.