2021 Toyota Aqua debuts new bipolar nickel-hydrogen battery

The successor to the long-lived Prius C has been launched in Japan, and it comes with a clutch of new hybrid features.

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Derek Fung
Derek Fung
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The Toyota Prius C (known as the Aqua in Japan) has finally been replaced after 10 years.

The second-generation Aqua shares the GA-B platform with the Yaris but has a unique exterior that evolves the original car’s design.

With a 2600mm wheelbase – 50mm longer than the Yaris – the Aqua should be a roomier proposition.

On the inside, the Aqua benefits from a more upscale dashboard treatment with a soft-touch section covered in stitched faux leather.

The traditional gear shifter in Yaris has also been replaced by a compact unit located in the centre stack.

At the top of the dashboard is a 10.5-inch touchscreen, which is a significant upgrade from the 7.0-inch unit in the Yaris.

The Aqua comes solely with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder hybrid drivetrain. Output figures have yet to be released, but it will likely have the same 85kW total output as the Yaris.

There are differences some differences between the Yaris and Aqua’s hybrid drivetrains, though.

Firstly, the Aqua is equipped with a new bipolar nickel-hydrogen battery pack. Compared to the non-bipolar nickel metal hydride batteries in the previous generation car, the new unit is said to have twice the output and is more compact thanks to smaller cells.

It is also the first Toyota to be capable of single-pedal driving. In Power+ mode the car doubles the amount of regenerative braking available when the driver lifts off the accelerator.

With a standard 100V/1500W accessory power outlet and Emergency Power Supply Mode, the Aqua can be used to power kettles, hair dryers and other appliances during blackouts caused by disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

The Aqua is available in both front- and all-wheel drive.

While the original Aqua was a huge success in Japan, where it regularly topped the sales charts, it found less favour overseas.

Buyers in Australia and the US preferred the larger Prius, as well as hybrid variants of regular models, such as the Camry.

The Prius C was axed in Australia in 2020 and effectively replaced by the Yaris Hybrid.

Around 1.87 million of the first generation Aqua/Prius C were sold throughout its 10-year run.

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Derek Fung
Derek Fung
Derek Fung is a Journalist at CarExpert.
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