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SEMA Scene Green: Toyota Shows A More Eco-Friendly Prius

By KBB.com Editors on November 3, 2009 2:54 PM

Adding both visual presence and environmental edge to its highest-mileage U.S. offering, Toyota publicly unveiled a pair of new Prius one-offs at SEMA aimed at furthering the cause of long-term sustainability. The prime example is the Prius Aerius (Latin for "belonging to the air"). It wears a four piece body kit from Five Axis Design that's made from polyurethane and partially recycled materials and was evaluated using racing-derived computational fluid dynamics (CFD) programs to ensure it maintained the standard car's exemplary 0.25 drag coefficient. The wheel/tire fitment builds on that base, wrapping Yokohama Super E-Spec low rolling resistance tires made from 80 percent non-petroleum materials and featuring a distinctive "leaf-graphic" tread design around unique Five Axis, 19-inch alloys fitted with smooth, clear, drag-trimming covers.

Paint for the Aerius was developed by Nippon Color Design Studio America (CDSA) and uses an environmentally-sensitive waterborne technology along with a blue-green Lumina pigment to produce a custom three-coat color that resembles "airiness and the color of the sky." Both the side and rear glass are covered with 3M's latest UV-killing film, which employs a technology that blocks 99.9 percent of those potentially harmful rays and has an SPF rating of over 1,000. Inside, the Aerius' seats are covered in a True Textiles fabric made from 100 percent recycled polyester. The Ultrafabrics-sourced polyurethane in the seat backs and bolsters is made using a process that traps and recycles over 99 percent of the solvents used in production while various other trim bits are made from 3form-supplied eco-recycled resin, which is composed of reclaimed birch trees and 40 percent post-industrial recycled content. As a final flourish, the original Prius seats were recycled into business cards and cosmetic cases with the leftovers parts donated to local trades. Since man does not live by green alone, Toyota also fitted the Aerius with a 900-watt/10-speaker Pioneer audio system, complete with rear-seat DVD entertainment package that features a pair of headrest-mounted seven-inch screens.

Joining the Aerius on the show stand is its sister ship, the Aemulus ("envious imitation"). Save for its conventional wheel/tire package and a 700-watt nine-speaker Pioneer sound system, this fully-drivable clone is being auctioned off to support the as Environmental Media Association (EMA) at CharityFolks.com/EMA. Like the Aerius, it will come with a unique Car Planet detailing kit that features 100-percent eco-sensitive products and gets packaged in a bag made from some of the aforementioned left-over seat scrap.