In 1994, Takeshi Uchiyamada, today Executive Vice-President and Chief Engineer world-wide for Toyota, was assigned to lead a team with a monumental challenge: create the car of the 21st century.
With extensive research, Uchiyamada concluded that the car of the 21st century should be a vehicle that would be of the greatest use to the greatest number of people. In order to accomplish this, he focused on two of the biggest challenges facing existing vehicles: dependency on finite resources and environmental impact.
After examining all the technological avenues that might lead to this car of the 21st century, Uchiyamada found one that he believed was the most promising. It was one Toyota was working on since the 1960s: hybrid vehicles.
Having narrowed the focus to hybrids, Uchiyamada spearheaded the development of Toyota Hybrid System, which powered the first generation Prius. While it met the criteria he had laid out, fuel efficiency and “eco-friendliness,” there was still room for improvement, Toyota made performance a top priority for the second generation Prius. The result was the development of Hybrid Synergy Drive.