Sunday, April 22, 2007

Toyota Alphard

Toyota Alphard Hybrid
Manufacturer Toyota

The Toyota Alphard is a minivan produced by the Japanese automaker Toyota since 2004. It is available as a seven or eight-seater with 2.4 and 3.0-litre gasoline engines. The Alphard is primarily made for the Japanese market, but was also sold in Hong Kong from 2004 to 2006. The vehicle was named after the Alphard, the brightest star in the constellation Hydra.

In 2006, a Royal Lounge Alphard was introduced; it is a luxurious four-seat version of the Alphard.

Toyota states its "E-Four electric 4WD system that regulates a rear-mounted, rear-wheel-propelling electric motor and coordinates electric power distribution to all four wheels. An ECB (Electrically Controlled Brake system) provides efficient wheel-by-wheel brake control."

The full-size Alphard Hybrid Minivan qualifies as an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV), achieving levels 75-percent lower emissions than the Japanese government's 2000 benchmark. The 2.4-litre gasoline engine has been developed specifically for use in Toyota's hybrid systems and features a high-expansion ratio cycle that raises efficiency and reduces friction.

"by-wire" technology

The Alphard Hybrid uses "by-wire" technology that monitors brake pedal pressure and vehicle speed in order to calculate the optimum hydraulic pressure. By-wire works with the E-Four to maximize the collection of kinetic energy from braking for conversion into electric power.

The Alphard Hybrid Minivan can generate up to 1,500 watts and is equipped with standard 100-volt AC power outlets, allowing a wide range of appliances to be used, such as laptops and emergency lights. The electrical outlets can also be used to recharge items such as power-assisted bicycles and electric carts, adding a new dimension to leisure activities.

The Alphard Hybrid also offers some advanced safety features not seen on other hybrids. In fact, standard on the "G edition" and optional on standard grades are ( with a G-BOOK compatible DVD voice navigation system):

Blind Corner Monitor, which indicates the approach of other vehicles or pedestrians from the left and right Back Guide Monitor with a color CCD camera and voice-guidance function, which uses signals from a steering sensor to calculate the likely reverse path during reversing and display it on the monitor screen Lane-monitoring system that uses images from the Back Guide Monitor camera to measure the lateral distance to white or yellow lines on major highways and triggers an alarm when the distance falls below a pre-set level Radar Cruise Control, which uses laser radar sensors and steering sensors to keep track of the vehicle's lane and any preceding vehicle and ensures that a safe distance is maintained in accordance with vehicle speed

Built-in electronic toll collection

In addition, optional on all grades is a built-in electronic toll collection unit that allows for quick tollgate pass-through (only available with a navigation system). The Alphard Hybrid achieves approximately 42 mpg and boasts an insulated body and newly developed two-way compressor that is incorporated in the motor to optimize the use of the air conditioner, conserving fuel. The Alphard Hybrid's specially developed windshield glass also reduces the amount of solar radiation penetration. In addition, the roof and roof panels contain an insulating material to reduce cabin temperature, which helps conserve energy when the air conditioner is operating.

While only available in Japan, the Toyota Alphard Hybrid Minivan is worth checking out for those traveling to this location. The Alphard's sister vehicle, the Sienna Hybrid will most likely be the first hybrid minivan introduced into the U. S. marketplace though the schedule has not yet been announced. Toyota's smaller hybrid minivan, the Estima Hybrid is also only in Japanese markets and will likely not be rolled out to the larger marketplace anytime soon.