The Toyota NS4

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The Toyota NS4 is an advanced plug-in hybrid concept vehicle that the company has revealed at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The NS4’s advanced powertrain will be a hybrid plug-in system featuring reductions in component size and weight with improved overall fuel economy, better acceleration and longer all-electric range, while maintaining a short charge time.

Toyota says that the NS4 concept signals a new styling direction for the company aimed at making an emotional connection with consumers.

Traditional vehicle development cycles average four years, but this is rapidly changing with the introduction of more technological innovations. Vehicles have become another communication hub in the consumers’ lifestyle, and are the third-fastest growing technological device, behind smartphones and tablets. Toyota has formed special alliances with technology leaders such as Microsoft, Intel and Salesforce to explore the creation of seamless vehicle interfaces with emerging technologies. Toyota claims that these alliances will ensure the company is at the forefront of this emerging sector of the automotive market.

The NS4 concept’s human-machine interface (HMI) is centred around a multi-touch screen with the look and feel of a smartphone. The simple, intuitive operation conveys information quickly while minimising distractions and maximising driver awareness. The multimedia and vehicle-controls enhancement will also direct air conditioning, audio, battery-charge and navigation functions. The HMI system is even capable of “learning” driver preferences to anticipate driver responses in specific environments and situations.

The NS4 features Toyota’s latest safety system developments, including next generation pre-collision system (PCS), adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlights, and blind spot monitor (BSM). PCS features lane departure and pedestrian collision avoidance technologies designed to predict collisions under certain circumstances and help avoid them. The system uses millimeter-wave radar and stereo cameras mounted on the front of the vehicle to detect and react to lane departure, pedestrians, and other vehicles. In the event of a potential collision, the system seeks to avoid other vehicles, road-side obstructions, and pedestrians by applying the brakes andmanipulating steering.

Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) headlights help to prevent vision-impairing glare to oncoming drivers and pedestrians. Using a camera mounted behind the front grille and partial shielding inside the headlights, this feature allows drivers to maintain near-high beam illumination to improve nighttime visibility.

Using sub-millimeter wave radar, the Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) detects a vehicle in the adjacent lane and visually alerts the driver using visual indicators placed in the upper dash.

The pop-up bonnet structure automatically raises the rear of the bonnet to increase the space underneath, helping to reduce pedestrian head injuries caused by a collision with the front of the vehicle. This innovation is the result of testing and verification using both conventional crash-test dummies and Toyota’s Total Human Model for Safety (THUMS) finite element model.

Four new glass technologies are integrated into the windscreen, front and rear windows to improve driver visibility, fuel economy and electric driving mode mileage efficiency:

? Rain-resistant ‘hydrophobic’ coating – Fluorine coated glass causes rain drops to form intosemispherical shapes for improved visibility and rain drop elimination.

? ‘Anti-fog’ coating – High performance resin material with anti-fogging characteristics and increased durability.

? High ultraviolet (UV) absorbing inner-layer – Removes 99 percent of harmful UVA and UVB rays

? Anti-solar film with radio-wave transparency – Reduces the internal vehicle temperature and improves electronic device functionality

Inner and outer rear view mirrors have been replaced with cameras that provide the driver with a panoramic view to the rear. The rear-view camera displays images on a dashboard-mounted screen, and provides the driver with a much wider field of vision when compared to a traditional rear view mirror.