Toyota's new Auris HSD (Hybrid Synergy Drive) concept car, to be unveiled next week at the Frankfurt motor show,  will preview the production model of the vehicle set to begin rolling off British assembly lines in the second half of 2010.   Based on the existing Auris five door hatch-back, the Auris HSD will incorporate the power-train developed with the current-generation Prius.  according to Toyota, this is the "logical first step in deploying full hybrid technology across Toyota’s entire European model line-up."

Interestingly, although the vehicle is specifically touted as Toyota's first "mainstream" sedan hybrid, the Auris HSD will feature solar-panel technology ( powering cabin ventilation) which was first introduced with the third generation Prius, covering the entire roof.   This may be an innovation aimed solely at functionality (or green "gimick" value)  but it's appearance is so visually in-your-face that it's hard not to suspect that Toyota is intentionally choosing to make its hybrids visually distinctive even as it moves to incorporate the technology across it's model lineup.  This styling approach appears to be at complete odds with the Ford/GM  strategy of intentional unobtrusiveness, which assumes that the greater part of the public won't buy a hybrid if its appearance is distinctive or futuristic.

Additional (albeit less obvious) solar panels will be incorporated into the Auris' dashboard,  intended to charge mobile phones and other portable devices, while further energy saving technologies such as low rolling resistance tires, improved aerodynamics and LED lighting will also be part of the design.

With its  NiMH battery pack, the car will accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in around 10 seconds, while returning what Toyota calls class-leading combined cycle fuel economy and sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. It will offer three optional driving modes which can be selected on-demand by the driver:

  • ECO mode maximizes hybrid system efficiency and fuel economy;
  • Power mode boosts performance; and
  • EV mode allows for electric motor power only for up to 1.25 miles (2 km) at speeds up to 31 mph (50 km/h).

There is no word yet on whether the Auris (or some similar, market-appropriate substitute) will be brought to North America.

[SOURCE:Green Car Congress]