In Brief
Toyota has unveiled the next generation of their staple hybrid series, the Toyota Prius Prime, alongside an interactive virtual reality experience. The car is Toyota's most efficient hybrid ever, sporting 51 KPLe (120 MPGe) and an over 966 km (600 mi) range.

HIGH TECH AUTOMOTIVE STANDARDS

As the market for low emission cars grows, Toyota continues to deliver. Their latest vehicle, the Toyota Prius Prime, is the most efficient commercial hybrid yet and departs from the traditional hatchback design of the Toyota Prius.

“This is the next generation of our Prius plug-in vehicle. We are calling it Prime because now it represents the best of hybrid vehicles,” said Nathan Kokes, Toyota’s brand manager for advanced technology vehicles. “It’s got more electric vehicle range, it’s got greater overall efficiency, it’s got a great new sleek design.”

The Prius Prime is a sporty plug-in hybrid that can drive for 35 km (22 mi) on electricity after only 5 hours of charging. Toyota found the average driver commutes only 35 km to work and back and designed the Prime’s EV range with this in mind.

Image by Toyota
Image by Saatchi & Saatchi

When it comes to gas mileage, it has an impressive 51 KPLe (120 MPGe) and over 966 km (600 mi) of range. The previous Toyota plug-in hybrid offered 40 KPLe (95 MPGe) and an 869 km (540 mi) range. To allow the upgraded efficiency, the Prius Prime’s battery doubled in capacity from 4.4 kilowatts to 8.8 kilowatts without sacrificing weight.

“It basically doubles the size of the range with less than 80% of the increase in weight and size,” Kokes said. “You effectively get double the range but not as much weight.”

The Prime’s 29.5 cm (11.6 in) heads up multimedia display is designed so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. And it presents the same pinch-to-zoom features you’re familiar with on your smartphone. Large vertical displays, first pioneered by Tesla, are among the many high-tech features we can expect to see in future vehicles. The Prius Prime is also improving safety by using sonar and cameras to automate cruise control and driving.

“There is more technology where the car takes over for the driver,” Kokes said. The Prime’s “adaptive cruise control” modifies the speed of your vehicle based on how fast the car in front of you travels. While its “lane assist” nudges your steering wheel when you drift out of your lane.

Pricing for the vehicle is unavailable but the Prime does qualify for $4,500 and $1,500 federal and state tax credits, respectively.

“The starting price of a lower level Prius is $24,000 to $25,000, so you could, if you take into consideration those tax credits, have roughly the price of a low-end vehicle,” Kokes said.

INTERACTIVE ART DRIVING SIMULATION

Toyota has followed in the footsteps of other automakers — like Ford and BMW — who are using virtual reality to showcase their vehicles in action. “The Impossible Quest,” produced by Emmy award winner Jason Zada of MediaMonks and Dwayne Koh of Saatchi & Saatchi, begins with a custom-built VR paint game that runs on the HTC Vive.

Image by Toyota

The art you create with the HTC Vive and Google Tilt Brush reappears in a cinematic 4-minute simulation that puts you behind the wheel of the new Toyota Prius Prime in a dystopian landscape.

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Image by Toyota

You’re then buckled in an actual car seat with a steering wheel that shifts to recreate the feeling of a roller coaster. The simulation is mostly autopilot but does present a fork in the road where you can turn the wheel to pass through one of two landscapes.

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Image by Toyota

After a high-speed chase where you almost die in numerous close calls, the simulation concludes with your Google Tilt Brush art and an applauding audience.

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Check out the 360º video below to get a taste of the experience: