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Toyota moves hybrid into the mass market with Corolla

Mainstream hybrid: The European Toyota Auris (Corolla) will gain this hybrid version in the second half of 2010.

Hybrid Corolla emerges in near-production form at Frankfurt motor show

14 Sep 2009

TOYOTA has issued the first detailed specifications of its near-production Corolla hybrid, which makes its world debut as a concept at the Frankfurt motor show this week ahead of European production in the second half of 2010.

Still to be confirmed for Australia, but now all but certain to be sold here as one of eight new hybrid models Toyota has committed to launching within the next four years, the Corolla hybrid – known as the Auris in Europe – will initially be built in the UK and marks the first mainstream car from Toyota to be equipped with the petrol-electric drivetrain from the Prius, which is built off the same platform.

The Japanese auto giant is determined to maintain its hybrid market leadership across the globe as its competitors draw close to production with a disparate range of petrol- and diesel-electric models, plug-in hybrids and full-electric vehicles.

8 center imageWith the Auris HSD Full Hybrid Concept, part of a Frankfurt show menagerie which also includes a near-production version of a plug-in Prius, Toyota has reasserted its commitment to making the environmental benefits of its Hybrid Synergy Drive system accessible to a broader customer base – and its intention to offer a hybrid version of every model in its range by the early 2020s.

Presented in five-door hatch form, the Corolla hybrid uses the same combination of a 73kW/142Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine and 60kW/207Nm electric motor, which drives the front wheels through a CVT transmission and offers a total system output of 100kW.

Toyota claims the Corolla can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 10 seconds and return sub-100g/km CO2 emissions and “class-leading” combined-cycle fuel economy. While the company is yet to specify exact figures, the eco Corolla will undoubtedly be close to the Prius, which returns 3.9L/100km and 89g/km of CO2.

As with the Prius, the Corolla hybrid will offer fully electric motoring for up to 2km (at speeds of up to 50km/h), depending on the driving style.

Toyota engineers have also improved refinement levels over the standard Corolla with additional sound-deadening materials and the inclusion of thicker glass and an “acoustic” windscreen. The ride height is lowered 20mm compared to the conventional Corolla, and underbody panels and a rear diffuser have been fitted to smooth and control airflow beneath the car.

Redesigned front and rear bumpers are also employed to minimise turbulence and drag, while unique 18-inch alloy wheels (shod with low-rolling-resistance tyres) are designed to cut air turbulence in the wheel-arches. A large, more efficient rear spoiler is fitted, too.

The combined effect lowers the drag coefficient to 0.28Cd.

Inside, the Corolla hybrid shown in Frankfurt features blue ‘Gaucholino’ leather (with light blue accent stitching) for the seats and upper dashboard, blue instrument lighting, alloy pedals, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, pearl-white finishing for the centre console and side air vents, thick carpeting (designed to further improve refinement, as well as raise the comfort level), and sequenced entry and exit lighting.

The latter includes puddle lights integrated into the wing mirrors and ambient illumination of the footwells and headlining.

The Corolla hybrid also has sunroof-mounted solar panels, as seen on the i-Tech variant of the Australian Prius, which generate up to 59 watts of electricity to run a fan that cools the interior when the car is parked.

Having said that, the Corolla show car goes a step further with solar panels also appearing on top of the dashboard to generate sufficient energy to recharge mobile phones or portable music players in purpose-mounted charging trays.

In the future, Toyota intends to advance this technology to provide solar-powered recharging of the hybrid battery.

The concept car shown in Frankfurt also includes energy-saving LED technology for the front and rear lights.

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