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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Toyota NS4 Plug-In Hybrid EV Concept @ Geneva [VIDEO]

Europeans will be able to enjoy the presence of Toyota’s hybrid mid-size concept car, the NS4. A car based on this concept will probably be launched by 2015 worldwide. Now, although the NS4 is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), the Japanese company says it is not a member of the Prius family.

Unlike what the Prius line has installed, this concept car has a next-generation Hybrid Synergy Drive plug-in system that is lighter, smaller, more fuel efficient, has better acceleration and is able to travel longer distances in electric-only mode.

The exact details of how well the new system performs compared to the old one have not been made public, not yet anyway. But we do know that a lot of emphasis will be put into making the car as intelligent as possible.

Toyota considers that connected vehicles rank in third behind smartphones and tables as the fastest growing markets. Thus, it has invested a lot of time, money and effort into bring the very best in to into its cars, especially into this NS4 concept.

The concept’s HMI (Human-Machine Interface) is centered on a multi-touch screen that not only looks stunning, but is also extremely useful. This is where a driver controls the car’s multimedia capabilities, the air conditioning, as well as the navigation functions and battery related issues.

Toyota claims that this HMI is able to adapt to a driver’s habits and will be able to actually predict what he wants to do, in certain circumstances at least. In theory, this sounds great; let’s wait and see if Toyota’s actions are up to its words.

Next, the Japanese have thought long and hard about safety and what that implies. They have come up with a number of new safety features, like the Pre-Collision System (PCS). Just like the name indicates, this system is designed to predict when a collision is about to take place and avoid it.

Millimeter-wave radar and front-mounted stereo cameras are used in the detection process. This way, the system knows when a lane is left behind, a pedestrian or a car is close by. At night, near-infrared beams are used to boost performance. If a collision is detected, a buzzer warns the driver, but if it is imminent, the brakes are automatically pushed while the seatbelt tightened.

In case a pedestrian is involved, an included pop-up hood structure kicks in that raises the rear of the hood to increase the space underneath, thus, reducing the chances of the pedestrian sustaining head injuries. Toyota says this system has been tested with dummies and virtual models, and it works.

Further tech additions are the replacing of mirrors with cameras,and a dedicated screen mounted on the dashboard to display the panoramic rear view image captured by the cameras. At the same time, cameras mounted in the front grille together with Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) headlights and partial shielding inside the headlights will allow a driver to use high beam illumination almost all the time without the risk of producing glare.

The concept car will undoubtedly attract a lot of people at Geneva interested in how Toyota’s cars will be like in a few years from now.

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