Toyota’s global design chief, Wahei Hirai, told Automotive News that the Prius is a template for future vehicle designs. “Prius is a showcase,” Hirai said. “We can try many design cues here first.”
Some of those cues include sharply creased corners, forward placement of the Toyota emblem and a lowered grill. Hirai calls the styling “free-form geometrics,” claiming the goal was to create a high-tech look that indicates “green.”
Hirai says “free-form geometrics” describes the juxtaposition of rigid geometric shapes against organic flowing ones, evident in the sharp angling of the front fascia and the dramatic crease down the side.
The designer also spoke about the integration of the Toyota badge into the full design of the vehicle, rather than adding it on at the end as an afterthought. This can clearly be seen in the 2010 Prius, where the badge is prominently displayed and worked into the design of the hood and grille. Hirai says this philosophy will carry over to future designs as well.
The lowered grille of the new Prius was designed to lend the hybrid a more futuristic, electric-car feel. Together with the shrunken upper vents, “it’s an anti-traditional grille,” says Toyota’s general manager for global design, Simon Humphries.
As is always the case with hybrids, a key goal for the design team was to reduce the Prius’ drag coefficient. They manage to decrease the drag coefficient by .1, from 0.26 to 0.25, by introducing what Hirai calls the “Aerocorner.” The Aerocorner blends the curvy upper body with a sharp edge, creating a flat surface before and after the wheel well, reducing turbulence around the car.
We won’t have to wait long to see if Toyota’s serious about carrying over these cues: The redesigned 2010 Toyota 4Runner is expected to make an appearance sometime this fall.