How the Third Generation Toyota Prius Got its Shape
The first Toyota Prius was looking just as a normal compact sedan, but being the automaker’s first hybrid and wanting to improve it and make it popular, the designers and engineers took the blueprints and put them back on the drawing board to see what it can be done.
And they started from the basic hybrid purpose in this world - fuel efficiency, which is very close related with aerodynamics. If you want to go faster and using less power, you need to slip through the air. If you have no idea how powerful air is at speed, try try sticking your head out the window a bit at 62 mph (100 km/h) to feel what force the car has to struggle with in order to keep accelerating or just maintain the speed.
The best aerodynamical shape is the teardrop, as it lets the air flow smoothly and continuous around it. Thing that doesn’t happen that well on a classic three-box design sedan from the ‘90s, when the Prius emerged. Even if the front end could split the air fairly ok, the sudden steep angle of the C pillar reuniting the roof with the trunk spoils the airflow and creates turbulence, upsetting the aerodynamics.
So, Toyota got rid of the classic C pillar and elongated the roof smoothly until it met the boot lid, resulting in a continuous, some how trapezoidal shape that is now associated with environment friendliness.
That was the second generation Prius’ design, which was so good that it was passed on even to the third generation that we have today in the dealerships. But what you probably didn’t knew is that Toyota tried to fiddle around with the shape as you will see in the photo gallery bellow. There were some proposal models that were trying to escape a bit from the classic Prius form, but in the end, designers have concluded that it’s better to stick with the classic and update it a bit.
❐ Check out the Toyota Prius Design photo gallery