The Toyota Prius has a major claim to world fame as the first-ever hybrid car.
It was first released in Japan in 1997 and arrived in the US in 2000 where it quickly became one of the best-selling cars in the country, and certainly the best-ever hybrid in sales.
It is known for its unique build, superlative quality and superb fuel efficiency, and other green credentials.
This article answers the question “What Is A Toyota Prius Made Of?”…
What Is The Body Of A Prius Made Of?
The Toyota Prius body is made from hot-stamped and high-tensile steel, as well as aluminum in many of the smaller components like hood and rear door frames.
The steel content has been raised to 19 percent compared to just 3 percent in the very earliest production models.
The underside of the body contains airflow panels that are made of plastic.
What Is The Paint Made Of?
The Toyota Prius paint job comprises a layer of white conductive primer which sits beneath Toyota’s global super light throwing powered electrodeposition paint.
The paint itself is water-based paint supplied by Microfinish among others. Toyota does not manufacture its own paint.
What Are The Wheels Made Of?
The Toyota Prius features wheels made using A356 aluminum alloy.
They are JWL-certified and are so good that most aftermarket parts copy the structure and material in their own wheels.
Toyota has also offered steel rims to some customers as a budget option, but only on older models from 2013 and earlier.
You typically don’t see them in the latest fourth-generation models.
What Is The Hybrid Battery Made Of?
If you drive a Prius from before 2021, then the battery is either made from lithium-ion or from nickel-metal hydride. You can check your owner’s manual to see.
The earliest models use nickel metal hydride, with lithium-ion being offered in later models.
The 2021 Prius comes with both available as a choice depending on the trim level.
Is The Battery Recyclable?
Yes, they are. Toyota’s batteries are very special and advanced when compared to many other brands because they can be recycled very effectively.
Where some EV owners face huge bills of thousands of dollars for a new battery, a Prius owner could buy a refurbished Prius battery for about $1,000 -1,200 depending on the size and quality.
The recycling process involves a recharging and deep discharge process repeated several times, which helps to restore the chemical balance in the battery, thus allowing it to work more like a new one again.
Toyota batteries can be restored to about 90-percent of their original capacity through this charge-discharge cycle. Outlets that can do the process are limited, though.
Does It Also Have Also A Normal Battery?
Yes, the Prius like other hybrid cars also comes with a regular 12-volt car battery.
There is a difference, however, because this battery is not built as a “starter battery” like in a regular internal combustion engine car.
In a hybrid car like the Prius, the 12-volt battery serves the function of powering the electronics, the lights, the onboard computer, and such.
The starter function is carried out by the electric motor and the main battery pack.
That’s why the Prius won’t operate even with its internal combustion elements if the EV elements are broken down or dead.
It also means that this battery cannot be used to jump-start other cars, which is a mistake that many make and accidentally cause damage to their Prius cars in the process.
Is The Battery Of The Prius Prime The Same?
Currently, Toyota doesn’t offer an all-electric Prius, but it has released the Prius Prime, which is a plug-in electric hybrid with a more impressive electric range of 25 miles.
Like other PHEV cars on the market, and like other Prius models, the Prius Prime also has a 12-volt battery, but it is also not configured as a starter battery, but rather as a way to power the onboard computer and electronics.
The Prius Prime is not a fully electric car, but it does have a much better electric range than the regular Prius, which is only able to cover about 11 miles in its all-electric mode.
What Is The Inside Cabin Made Of?
The passenger cabin is made using several different materials.
The steering wheel is coated in faux leather, and some details like the interior door handles are satin chrome coated.
Toyota has made a point of trying to boost the already decent green credentials of the Prius by using so-called ecological plastics.
The headliners are made from bioplastics which are made from plastic derived from biomass oils and not from petroleum.
By 2011, Prius was also using these bioplastics in the dashboard.
For the soft touch element, however, Toyota still relies on thermoplastic elastomer compounds because these deliver a more premium feel and make the interior appear and feel less cheap.
Toyota uses these TPE elements mostly just on areas where the driver or passenger is most likely to touch. They will use bioplastic on other sections that are not commonly touched.
What Are The Seats Made Of?
Those who are concerned about animal rights will be delighted to know that the Toyota Prius does not use any real leather in the car, making it “vegan friendly.”
Polymer cloth upholstery is a standard-setting on many Prius, but synthetic leathers are also available, including SofTex materials in the newest ones.
Does It Have Any Materials That A Non-Hybrid Doesn’t Have?
The most unique material that you’ll find in the Prius is biomass-oil-based plastics which are not derived from petroleum.
It was decided around 2007-2008 that it is slightly hypocritical to promote the Prius as an eco-friendly car when it still relies so heavily on petroleum-based plastics for interior materials.
Early on, Toyota started using the bioplastics in limited quantities but has steadily increased their use over the years.
The TPE-style soft-touch materials are not unique to the Prius and are used extensively in car production, especially high-end production.
Prius also contains a number of plant-derived raw materials which are often combined with some traditional plastics. These include:
- Polylactic acid (used in the trunk liner, scuff plates, floor finish plate, and other areas)
- Kenaf fiber (used in the door trim)
- Polyol derived from castor oil (used in seat foam)