Friday 30th June 1995
Toyota corporate officials approved the development of a hybrid vehicle. It was code-named “890T.” The vehicle would be powered with what was (and is) called the “Toyota Hybrid System” (THS), a system that would combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. The early THS system in the Prius concept used a capacitor to store its electrical energy rather than the battery pack that eventually became part of the production model’s system and which continues as a main component in Toyota’s current Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Interestingly, Toyota has carried on its development of capacitor-based hybrid systems, most notably in the TS030 and TS040 Hybrid endurance race cars which use supercapacitors to store energy. The Prius concept is a fantastic example of how concepts can foreshadow forthcoming production models. Even though the exterior design evolved in the two years between the 1995 concept and 1997 production reveal, the ‘Toyota Hybrid System’ (THS) technology in the Prius concept car was developed to underpin the production version and has gone down in history as bringing hybrid motoring to the masses.The 1995 Prius concept was the result of 18 months of hard work by Toyota engineers and designers. In early 1994, they had identified the need to develop and build a car that was kinder to the environment and Earth’s resources while retaining the benefits of a modern car. By the end of 1994, the project team had designed a hybrid concept car and coined the name ‘Prius’, and they then had around a year to bring it to fruition in time for the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995.