Toyota Launches Hybrid EV 4×4 Drivetrain

Toyota hopes to build on its reputation as a leader of hybrid EV technology with the launch of a new drivetrain at the LA Auto Show.

Its latest generation Toyota Prius is the first model to benefit from Hybrid AWD-i, which the carmaker claims, is an intelligent, electric all-wheel drive system. The system uses an additional high-torque electric motor to provide extra drive through the rear axle when required.

It is designed to engage automatically when pulling away, at speeds up to 7mph, and when sensors detect low-grip conditions, such as in snow or on wet and slippery road surfaces, at speeds between 7 and 44mph. The unit claims to be both compact and lightweight, with no central differential or front-to-rear driveshaft, resulting in minimal intrusion in boot space and little compromise in fuel economy and low emissions. The Hybrid AWD-i model features a new, nickel-metal hydride hybrid battery specially engineered for cold weather performance.

The latest Prius features revised frontal and rear-end styling, new lamp units, wheel designs and color choices. Upgraded equipment features include a larger wireless charging tray for the latest crop of bigger smartphones, added heads-up display functionality and a faster, more intuitive Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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