Official switch-on for Toyota’s plug-in Prius

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It’s official: Toyota announced this week that an international trial of the plug-in Prius will start next year, followed by a full production model in two years’ time. It’s news we’ve been eagerly anticipating since the Prius PHV (plug-in hybrid vehicle) was unveiled as a concept car at the Frankfurt motor show.

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Around 600 cars are to be leased worldwide and some of the 200 or so allocated for Europe will be coming to the UK. Government agencies, major corporations and research institutions will be the principal customers.

At the official launch, Toyota declared that PHVs demonstrated its environmentally responsible approach to harnessing diverse energy resources. Feedback from next year’s trials will be used in the development of the future production model, which it expects to build in “tens of thousands” from 2012.

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Based on the latest, third generation Prius, the plug-in model can be recharged simply by connecting it to a public charging point or a domestic electricity supply. Thanks to compact, high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, in place of the nickel-metal hydride type used in the current Prius, the car can be driven much further on its electric power – EV mode – alone, cutting average fuel consumption and sharply reducing CO2 emissions.
According to initial tests the driving range will be around 14 miles. Once battery power is exhausted, the car switches seamless to hybrid petrol-electric running, just like the current full-hybrid model. The official Japanese test criteria are different from those used in Europe, but under local conditions CO2 output is calculated at 41g/km in a combination of EV and hybrid petrol-electric driving.

Comments (6)

  1. I agree with Martin- company car users will not have the same interests and personal financial involvement as individual users. If the UK cars are not already allocated, I’d like to volunteer.

    I currently run a four month old Gen3 T-Spirit. I think the plug in car might address a particular problem with its fuel consumption. As a doctor in General Practice, my working day involves half a mile to work, then several house calls in a small town, then half a mile home again. I would cycle but I carry a boot full of equipment and have to respond to emergency calls.

    If I set the trip computer at the beginning of a working day, I seem to average 25mpg best, but only 18 or 19 in the recent cold weather, the problem being that the engine insists on going through its warm up cycle each time I start off, even if I’ve only been in someone’s house for 5 minutes, and even if I try to make it use EV mode for the shorter hops.

    My previous diesel car used to do 40mpg in these circumstances, so I’m quite disappointed.

    A plug in Prius with a 14 mile range would get me through most working days without using any petrol, whilst having the back up of petrol power for the odd day when I do half a dozen visits to people who live out of town.

    So, how about it, Toyota?

    Pete

  2. What I want to know is when can I get one and how much will they cost? If the price is right then it’ll be great for me in my job.

  3. As plugin conversions are already being carried out by third parties why are Toyota moving so slowly on this? Why wont all new Toyota hybrids such as the Auris be plugin too?

    When the technology already exists and is tried and tested surely this shouldnt take two years to bring into production.

  4. Am I right in thinking this car has an electric heater to allow the car to be electric only on cold days?

    @Kim – there’s a bit more to it than that, as far as I can tell. The Lithium batteries have a higher capacity with a higher voltage. This would require much of the cars electrics to be upgraded to handle the different electrical standards and a complete reprogramming of the ECU to account for the higher battery life.

  5. Pity we have to wait so long for a production version, a two year trial seems a bit excessivewhen the car already exists in principal and just needs a charger and connection lead to be added. Or am I missing something? Are Toyota being a bit too cautious?

  6. Good news. However: “Government agencies, major corporations and research institutions will be the principal customers”. Why exactly? If the the plug-in Prius is to sell to private customers, wouldn’t it make sense to allocate some of them to private individuals in exchange for regular running reports and a usage log?

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