It is well known that the Toyota Prius is the king of all hybrids, from the most affordable urban-friendly hybrid, the Prius c to the conventional Prius hatchback and the “big” Prius, the Prius v. What buyers of these ultra efficient vehicles might not know is that Toyota also has a winning hybrid on the track.
The Toyota TS030 has special hybrid technology that led to the evolution of the TS040, which allowed Toyota to become the first Japanese auto manufacturer to win the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2014. This is racing technology that can capture the kinetic energy that would typically be lost during a racecars braking period and store it for acceleration. The TS030 can actually convert that energy into electricity to deliver a 300hp boost to the already powerful gasoline engine. Toyota claims that this stored energy during the braking period is “enough to lift a 2.5-tonne minivan more than 20 metres vertically.” That’s some energy storage system.
Sure, a Prius road car that can also store kinetic energy and use it for acceleration but one would naturally assume that is the only connection to the TS030 racecar? Not true, as Seiji Ichii, President and CEO, Toyota Canada Inc. explains, “Toyota engineers test and study hybrid technology through the vehicle’s performance on the race track. They then apply the first-hand knowledge they gain – bringing award-winning engineering, performance and passion to all of Toyota’s hybrids.” Mr. Ichii also stated, “What we test on the race track we build for the road.”
It could be argued that the decades of on-road, real world testing of the Prius cars has helped Toyota to develop a high performance version for the track. There is no question that both the on-road and on-track vehicles have the same goal, to improve efficiency and reduce the amount of carbon burning fuel used to propel a family vehicle or a winning racecar built for just one racecar driver.