The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Innovation Awards — recognizing the very best examples of new automotive technology available to Canadian drivers — have just been announced, and the winner of Best Green Innovation? A heat pump.
Toyota’s Gas Injection Heat Pump System, to be exact, designed for the automaker’s lineup of electrified vehicles. It reduces the need to rely solely on a gasoline engine or onboard battery to provide heat, the latter significantly cutting down the amount of pure electric range. Traditional heat pumps do not operate in freezing temperatures, however this particular example utilizes what is called a Cyclone Separator integrated valve that bolsters performance and allows operation even in -10 C environments.
“Creating the world’s best-selling family of fuel-efficient, low-emissions hybrid vehicles means developing new, advanced technologies that ensure the ownership and driving experience is the same as that of a conventional automobile,” said Toyota Canada vice president Cyril Dimitris.
“The Gas Injection Heat Pump System, a world-first developed for the Prius Prime, helps this plug-in hybrid achieve remarkable range, year-round. We’re honoured that the members of AJAC have recognized our commitment to cleaner motoring with this important award.”
The Prius Prime uses approximately 63 per cent less energy than a traditional heating setup, helping extend the range of the plug-in hybrid by 21 per cent during cold weather driving. First launched in Quebec last year, it is now available to the rest of Canada and has an advertised combined city and highway fuel economy rating of 1.8 Le/100 km.
Sister brand Lexus was also recognized, receiving the Best Safety Innovation award for its Lexus Safety System+, a suite of integrated safety tech such as collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, automatic high-beams, radar cruise control and more.