We have discussed it a number of times and here are the basic details from minds of Toyota.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Jan. 12, 2011
The NS4 PHEV Concept -- I’d drive it. And you would too
At the 2012 NAIAS we were focused on a number of fuel misers in the here and now or imminent future. Those included the c, Dart, Elantra, Fusion and Jetta. While we have covered those vehicles in good detail, there was a few standout concepts that look more like pre-production prototypes than “out there” pie in the sky concepts. One of those was Toyota’s NS4 PHEV.
Toyota’s advanced PHEV concept is the company’s future. We are seeing Toyota’s new frontal design theme appear in mainstream products like the all-new Camry, upcoming c and GS all the while the company strives to improve upon the future of mobility and human machine interface or HMI.
The NS4’s advanced powertrain will incorporate an all-new next-generation Hybrid Synergy Drive PHEV system featuring reductions in component size and weight with improved overall fuel economy, better acceleration and longer all-electric range, while maintaining a short charge time.
The reason we believe it is not just a whiz bang concept is the following statement:
Toyota engineers were challenged to design a new mid-sized concept for potential global market introduction by 2015. The NS4 concept is a dedicated plug-in hybrid, separate from the Prius family, designed with future mobility requirements in mind.
The NS4 Concept is based on both the emotional and functional requirements of the next generation of the automobile. Based on the aerodynamics of the modified triangle with a low height and cabin-forward tilt, the NS4 incorporates distinctive accents like the trapezoid grille, floating lower spoiler and wing-like DRLs wrapped around a highly pronounced front fender.
Like the A-pillars in the all-new Camry, the NS4’s are thin for improved driver visibility while maintaining roof crush strength.
NS4 PHEV Concept
We have seen traditional vehicle development cycles averaging 4 to even 8 years with minor mid-model refreshes in between (Corolla anyone?) but this is the past. Vehicles today are expected to integrate the latest safety, engineering and most importantly, communication technologies into their product offerings. According to Toyota, connected vehicles are the third-fastest growing technological device right behind smartphones and tablets
While Toyota is playing catch-up to Ford’s SYNC, BMW’s Connected Drive or even Kia’s UVO, Toyota is not sitting still with its all-new EnTune system rapidly making headway. The Company made special alliances with Microsoft, Intel and Salesforce to explore the creation of seamless vehicle interfaces with emerging technologies. These alliances will help Toyota regain a foothold in the technology incorporation arena, an area that they took their eyes off of for far too long.
The NS4 concept’s Human-Machine Interface (HMI) is supposed to be built around a multi-touch screen user interface with the look and feel of a smartphone. The simple, intuitive operation conveys information quickly while minimizing distractions and maximizing driver awareness. The multimedia and vehicle-controls enhancement also will direct air conditioning, audio, battery-charge and navigation functions. The HMI system is said to even be able to learn driver preferences and habits to anticipate responses in specific environments and situations.
State of the Art Safety
The NS4 Interior spells concept vs. prototype so do not expect this level of futuristic design to become a reality.
The NS4 introduces a next generation Pre-Collision System (PCS) with lane departure, rear-end and pedestrian collision avoidance technologies designed to predict collisions under certain circumstances and help to avoid them. This PCS uses millimeter-wave radar and stereo cameras mounted on the front of the vehicle to detect and react to lane departure, pedestrians and other vehicles. In addition, the system emits near-infrared beams to enhance PCS recognition at night. This driver assistance feature helps to avoid collisions with other vehicles, road-side obstructions, and pedestrians by applying the brakes and manipulating steering. Unfortunately the current state of the art is overtly expensive and out of the reach of the common everyday consumer but hopefully that will change by 2015.
The current generation PCS, available in certain Lexus and Toyota vehicles, is designed to identify certain objects directly in the road ahead. If PCS determines that a collision is imminent, the brake assist system is placed in standby mode, a warning is displayed and a buzzer sounds. If PCS determines that a collision is unavoidable, the system still will alert the driver via a warning light, warning display and buzzer, apply the brakes and automatically retract the driver and front passenger seatbelts.
Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) headlights help prevent vision-impairing glare to oncoming drivers and pedestrians. Using a camera mounted behind the front grille and partial shielding inside the headlights, this feature allows drivers to maintain near-high beam illumination to improve nighttime visibility.
The pop-up hood structure automatically raises the rear of the hood to increase the space underneath, helping to reduce pedestrian head injuries caused by a collision with the front of the vehicle, within certain speed ranges. This innovation is the result of testing and verification using both conventional crash-test dummies and Toyota’s Total Human Model for Safety (THUMS) virtual model. While this is a “Buck Rogers” innovation, it should work as advertised. As long as we do not have to pay for it so do not expect this advance to reach the future car as we know if for quite some time.
Using sub-millimeter wave radar, the Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) is designed to detect a vehicle in the adjacent lane and visually alerts the driver using visual indicators placed in the upper dash.
It uses glass, right?
Four new glass technologies are integrated into the windshield and front triangle, door, and rear windows to improve driver visibility, gas mileage and electric driving mode mileage efficiency:
- Hydrophobic coating – Fluorine coated glass causes rain drops to form into semispherical shapes for improved visibility and rain drop elimination (also used on the roof solar panel).
- Anti-fog film – High performance resin material with anti-fogging characteristics and increased durability.
- High ultraviolet (UV) absorbing inner-layer – Removes 99 percent of harmful UVA and UVB rays.
- Anti-solar film with radio-wave transparency – Reduces the internal vehicle temperature and improves electronic device functionality.
I wonder what this will do to the sales of Rain-X, a staple around here for excellent visibility when conditions go from bad to worse.
The NS4’s inner and outer rear view mirrors have been replaced with cameras that provide the driver with a panoramic rearward view. The rearward image is displayed on a dedicated dashboard mounted screen above the navigation screen and provides a wider view than conventional rear view mirrors. The rearward panoramic camera view working in combination with the Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system enhances driving visibility.
Again, a very expensive solution and one that will be unlikely to reach the mainstream until maybe 2020 but we are heading into the future and there is no stopping this fast moving train now!
Toyota is a company that has experienced vastly over reaching marketing and sales predictions (Tundra), some bad luck with sudden acceleration events (Saylor incident), the Japan earthquake and subsequent Tsunami and finally the floods in Thailand. These circumstances are now a part of Toyota’s past. As the Japanese auto giant rises back to its feet, expect renewed vigor and attention to detail as well as the ability to compete with the world’s best no matter the market segment or location. If you fall asleep at the wheel in this business, you are dead. Toyota learned the hard way and I doubt we will see it happen again anytime soon.