The third-generation Prius features a number of new functions including a remote-controlled air conditioner and a solar-powered ventilation system.
The new Prius was announced by Toyota Motor Corp at the 2009 North American International Auto Show (Detroit Motor Show), which is open to public from Jan 17 to 25, 2009 (See related article).
The remote-controlled air conditioner was developed exclusively for hybrid vehicles. The Prius has an electrified compressor and water pump, and its air conditioner is powered by a Ni-hydrogen secondary battery mounted in the vehicle. Therefore, the air conditioner can be used without starting the engine. In the case of the new Prius, it can be remotely operated by pressing the switch on the smart key.
In addition, the new Prius has an optional function to ventilate the cabin using power generated by a solar battery mounted on the roof. The cabin temperature could reach as high as 80°C in summer time, but the temperature can be lowered to some extent by using this ventilation system; as a result, the power consumption of the air conditioner can be reduced, saving the power of the secondary battery.
The solar-powered ventilation system and the remote-controlled air conditioner are offered as a set.
Furthermore, as a new interface, the new Prius employs a steering switch that incorporates a touch sensor. When the driver touches the switch, an image of the steering switch is displayed on the center panel and the position of the finger is indicated by an orange-colored light, allowing the driver to operate the switch without looking at it.