Toyota Prius Hybrid Engine Also Takes Two Top Honours

Toyota’s ‘Mighty Atom’ 1.0-litre engine recently launched in its Yaris supermini has been voted the best engine in the world at the first ‘oscars for engines’.

An international panel of 19 automotive experts gave the Yaris engine their top award at the first International Engine of the Year Awards presented by Engine Technology International magazine at Hamburg, Germany this week.

The 998cc, 67bhp petrol Yaris engine – a lot smaller than many used in today’s motorbikes – received praised for its fuel efficiency (it can return around 50mpg), eco-friendliness, advanced technical content (it uses variable valve timing for optimum power, torque and fuel economy) and good driveability. “Its power and refinement belie its small capacity,” said one judge. “Performs like a far larger engine, but is incredibly fuel efficient,” said another.

The Yaris engine beat off every other engine in current mass production including the latest offerings from established greats like Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. As well as taking the top award, the Yaris engine also won the ‘Sub 1.0-litre’ category.

The award comes at a particularly salient moment. This week the UK Government has introduced a tax benefit to encourage the use of cars with small engines. Drivers of cars with engines of less than 1.1-litres are only required to pay £100 road tax instead of the usual £155 per year. The Yaris engine is also good news for the British motor industry. From 2001, it will be built at Toyota’s state-of-the-art engine plant at Deeside in North Wales.

In the ‘Best Eco-friendly’ category, the Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle with its combined petrol and electric power plant was a runaway winner. The judges commended Toyota for being first to engineer and bring to market a complex hybrid vehicle offering significantly reduced exhaust emissions and the potential for 79mpg* fuel consumption. “(Prius is)…an excellent way to reduce consumption and pollution,” said one judge.

Simply put, the Toyota Hybrid System (THS) which powers the Toyota Prius is made up of a 1.5-litre 16v petrol engine mated to a 30kW electric motor with a nickel metal hydride battery pack installed behind the rear seats. Using these power sources either individually or in combination, Prius is able to eke out superb fuel economy with significantly reduced exhaust emissions compared to equivalent cars.

Prius also picked up the award for ‘Best 1.4-litre to 1.8-litre engine’ proving the hybrid system can be compared favourably with and beat the best conventional petrol and diesel engines found in the majority of today’s cars.

Toyota (GB) Ltd will start sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle in the autumn of 2000. Sales of the Toyota Yaris began on 8 April 1999 and 4,475 have been sold to date.

* Japanese 10:15 test mode

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