Take a look at a Prius… Skinny tires, no toe in, and they even stole Carlo Abarth’s “double bubble” design with little bumps for the drivers and front passenger’s heads so they could get the roofline a few millimeters lower and cut the wind resistance. Under the hood, the normal Otto cycle engine is replaced with an Atkinson Cycle design with double digit compression ratios, but sacrificing a good chunk of power in the process of maximizing thermal efficiency. Add it all up, and one gets the feeling that the Prius would get fantastic MPG even with no hybrid assist.

It appears that Toyota has figured this out too, reducing the propulsion battery capacity in the 2016 Prius to .75 kilowatt hours. To put that in perspective, a garden variety 12 volt deep cycle trolling motor battery is good for around 80 to 100 amp hours, or around a kilowatt. .75 kilowatt is about one horsepower, and you need about 10 horses just to push a small car down the road at highway speed… So that little one HP for an hour battery ain’t gonna move a Prius far and certainly not fast. But hybrid batteries are expensive as hell, same for the hybrid’s controllers and motors. Turning the Prius into a token hybrid helps Toyota make a profit on a car whose sales peaked in 2010, while the buyers get to maintain their unearned “green” cred, and the battery is so tiny they’ll never notice when it prematurely dies.

I suppose we could call the new Prius a Hybrid In Name Only or “HINO”… But Toyota’s already using that name for a truck!