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NAIAS Toyota NS4 Plug-in Hybrid Concept. A Preview for Next Gen SAI and HS250h?

POSTED BY admin ON 11 January 2012


Toyota describes the NS4 as a next-generation four-door environment-friendly vehicle incorporating advanced technology with an exciting design. The vehicle is aimed to offer sporty driving performance as well as top-level fuel efficiency projected for the year 2015.

Mounted ono the glass roof is a set of transparent solar panels which can be used generate power for the air conditioning unit which Toyota says can ‘pre-condition’ the cabin temperature when the car is parked outside on a hot sunny day. There is also an innovative touch-screen user interface in the central two-screen display allows for fun, easy and intuitive operation.

Specifications for the NS4 Plug-in Hybrid :
Length : 4,650 mm
Width : 1,770 mm
Height : 1,370 mm
Wheelbase : 2,700 mm
Powertrain : Plug-in hybrid system with 2.0-liter engine
Tires : 225/40R19

Out of curiosity, we compared this to specifications of a Toyota SAI / Lexus HS250h.

Length : 4,620 mm
Width : 1,770 mm
Height : 1,495 mm
Wheelbase : 2,700 mm
Powertrain : 2.4-liter 2AZ-FXE hybrid
Tires : 215/45R18

Toyota SAI / HS250h

Put the two and two together, we have reasons to believe that the NS4 is a thinly veiled preview of the next generation Toyota SAI / Lexus HS250h. The current model Lexus HS250h hasn’t been quite a commercial success as much as Toyota would’ve prefer it to be, although the Toyota SAI is doing reasonably well in Japan. However now that the Toyota Camry Hybrid is already on sale in Japan, with a newer 2.5-liter hybrid engine and a larger body, it is difficult to make a justification for the Toyota SAI, which uses the previous generation Camry Hybrid’s 2.4-liter hybrid powerplant.

Plus in Japan, there are significant overlap in pricing between the larger Toyota Camry Hybrid (3.04 million Yen – 3.8 million Yen) and the smaller Toyota SAI (3.38 million Yen and 4.37 million Yen). The logical thing for any product planner to do would be to realign the smaller Toyota SAI, and position it as a ‘younger’ and ‘sporty’ performance oriented sedan, and fit a cheaper, smaller engine to bring further down market. Of course, there is the issue of cannibalization of the all important Prius, which currently sells in Japan for between 2.17 million Yen and 3.34 million Yen. Then again, the Prius is not known for its sporty attributes. The idea of a next generation SAI to do what the youth and fun oriented Aqua did for the the Prius family, is not that far fetched.

Of course, these are just our on-the-fly speculations.

A plug-in hybrid is a normal hybrid vehicle but with the added capability of having an extended pure EV (electric vehicle) mode driving range, courtesy of a more powerful traction battery pack that can be charged from a standard AC power outlet. A normal hybrid only has a maximum pure EV mode driving range of around 2 km.