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Prius just wants to have fun

Gen 4 Prius is looking for fun

BY now, we all know what the Prius is. It’s Toyota’s iconic hybrid car, and well, it’s had a bit of a reputation for being, how should we put this, bland and oddly lacking in style.

But all that is about to change, with Toyota advancing the pioneering status of its iconic Prius hybrid car by revealing a fourth-generation model that debuts a futuristic design, fun-to-drive dynamics and an impressive gain to fuel economy.

Unveiled at a special event in Las Vegas ahead of its international motor-show debut in Frankfurt next week and an Australian launch early in 2016, the new Prius exterior has completely evolved.

It features a dramatic low-slung silhouette that is approximately 60mm longer, 15mm wider and 20mm lower, delivering a much more planted on-road presence with a lower centre of gravity and more space for occupants and their luggage.

The bonnet is lower and the most distinctive Prius cue – the roof peak – has been moved forward, creating an athletic shape inspired by a runner in the starting blocks.

The sporty theme for the new Prius is accentuated by the Toyota emblem in the front grille sitting at exactly the same height as on Toyota’s 86 sports car. It is flanked by new headlamps that minimise frontal area while providing a striking light display that helps define the vehicle’s distinctive character.

Bold character lines run along the side from the front fenders – one just above the sill that sweeps up towards the rear fender, while the upper crease morphs into the rear spoiler, which has been lowered. Striking rear combination lamps express the distinctive lines of the Prius from the rear spoiler to the trailing edges of the sides.

Exterior colours include an “Emotional Red”, which utilises a newly developed treatment process to achieve a deep and vibrant lustre. The new Prius interior also embraces Toyota’s concept of “Iconic Human-tech” with a strong presence that adopts advanced technology complemented by features that are functional, fun and have high visual impact.

Owners will be rewarded with the comfort and utility offered by a wrap-around cockpit, form-hugging seat design, easy-to-use controls and increased visibility. A sense of quality and space is created through the wide instrument panel with its layered construction that clearly defines the “display zone”, separating it from the “control zone” which is now closer to the driver.

A new, stiffer platform – the first developed under Toyota’s New Generation Architecture (TNGA) program – is at the heart of revolutionary improvements that support a more responsive driving experience and enhanced occupant protection.

In keeping with the Prius name which means “front runner”, the new-generation car continues to build on its eco-car DNA with technical breakthroughs including the world’s most thermally efficient petrol engine at 40 per cent. This remarkable achievement, which provides a significant improvement in fuel efficiency, is due to the adoption of new or substantially revised components that were effectively blueprinted to the finest limits and tolerances.

Engineers also succeeded with a comprehensive program of size and weight reductions for major hybrid components while maintaining overall performance, confirming Prius as the global pacesetter in hybrid technology. The cutting-edge development program for the new Prius also focused on a more responsive drive experience achieved through a lower centre of gravity, newly developed double-wishbone rear suspension and a more rigid body.

The all-new rear double wishbone suspension produces a better connection to the road, providing greater control and feedback in all driving conditions. A more rigid body helps improve responsiveness while cornering without sacrificing ride quality or occupant comfort.

The next-generation Prius will make available a package of electronic safety assistance aids including a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, automatic high beam and active cruise control. Pricing and further details will be available closer to launch.

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UPDATED: Fiat Chrysler withdraws from proposed merger with Groupe Renault

FCA and Groupe Renault could merge
Merger talks begin between FCA and Groupe Renault

June 6, 2019: In an official statement released today, the Board of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has resolved to withdraw with immediate effect from its merger proposal with Groupe Renault.

The statement reads:

FCA remains firmly convinced of the compelling, transformational rationale of a proposal that has been widely appreciated since it was submitted, the structure and terms of which were carefully balanced to deliver substantial benefits to all parties.

However it has become clear that the political conditions in France do not currently exist for such a combination to proceed successfully.

FCA expresses its sincere thanks to Groupe Renault, in particular to its Chairman and its Chief Executive Officer, and also to the Alliance partners at Nissan Motor Company and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, for their constructive engagement on all aspects of FCA’s proposal.

FCA will continue to deliver on its commitments through the implementation of its independent strategy.

May 28, 2019: IN a move that would create the third largest automotive group in the world, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) yesterday proposed a 50/50 merger with Groupe Renault, and collaboration with its alliance partners Nissan and Mitsubishi.

In response, Renault’s Board of Directors met today to examine the proposal it received from FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) regarding a potential merger, said to be valued at more than $50 billion, between the two automotive giants.

“After careful review of the terms of FCA’s friendly proposal, the Board of Directors [has] decided to study with interest the opportunity of such a business combination, comforting Groupe Renault’s manufacturing footprint and creating additional value for the Alliance,” a statement from Renault reads.

According to a prepared statement, released by FCA yesterday, the proposal follows initial discussions between the two companies to identify products and regions where they could collaborate, and reads:

The case for combining the businesses is also strengthened by the need to take bold decisions to capture at scale the opportunities created by the transformation of the auto industry in areas like connectivity, electrification and autonomous driving.

The combined business would sell approximately 8.7 million vehicles annually, would be a world leader in EV technologies, premium brands, SUVs, pickup trucks and light commercial vehicles and would have a broader and more balanced global presence.

The benefits of the proposed transaction are not predicated on plant closures, but would be achieved through more capital efficient investment in common global vehicle platforms, architectures, power trains and technologies.

Under the terms of the proposal, shareholders in each company would receive an equivalent equity stake in the combined company. The combination would be carried out as a merger transaction under a Dutch parent company.

The Board of the combined entity would initially be composed of 11 members, with the majority being independent and with equal representation of four members each for both FCA and Groupe Renault, as well as one nominee from Nissan.

The new parent company would be listed on the Borsa Italiana (Milan), Euronext (Paris) and the New York Stock Exchange. Benefits flowing equally to current FCA and Groupe Renault shareholders.

The combined entity, if it were to include Renault’s Nissan and Mitsubishi alliance, would have a potential global sales footprint of more than 15 million vehicles.

FCA and Groupe Renault have advised they will keep the market informed of any progress in the potential merger.