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Toyota officially launches plug-in Prius program, retail sales in 2011

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Filed under: Hybrid, Hatchback, Toyota, Electric

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Toyota Prius PHEV - click above for high-res image gallery

In Japan today, Toyota officially launched its Prius Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) lease program. Over the next six months, Toyota will be building and deploying 600 examples of the plug-in Prius for testing primarilly in Japan, United States and Europe. The Japanese market will get 230 units, with 150 coming to the States and 200 going to Europe. The cars will be leased to government, commercial, and university fleets for field testing that help to gather more data on how PHEVs are used in the real world.

To accommodate plug-in charging the Prius gets a 5.2 kWh lithium ion battery pack in place of the standard nickel metal hydride unit. The battery and associated charging hardware appear to be the only significant mechanical changes to the PHEV. The motor and other hybrid hardware are apparently carried over intact. Even with the standard motor, Toyota claims a maximum EV speed of 62 mph.

On the Japanese JC08 cycle, the Prius can run about 14.5 miles before depleting the battery. It's not clear what the performance level will be in EV mode and what sort of driving will trigger the engine to start up while the battery still has available power. Based on that driving cycle, the PHEV is rated at 72 mpg (U.S.) in post-EV hybrid mode which compares with the 50 mpg or so that we typically see in real use. Since the hybrid system is essentially unchanged, the 14 mile range is probably a bit optimistic. The combined efficiency based on a utility factor of .436 (43.6 percent of driving in EV mode) the Prius is rated at 134 mpg (U.S.). The PHEV Prius will undoubtedly get very good mileage, but we suspect that triple digits are unlikely for most people. During the presentation, Toyota also announced a target of retail sales for the PHEV of late 2011 at an "affordable" price. Video of the presentation and the press release are after the jump.

Presentations:

[source: Toyota]

Continue reading Toyota officially launches plug-in Prius program, retail sales in 2011

Toyota officially launches plug-in Prius program, retail sales in 2011 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Dec 2009 10:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Interesting...like I said in another thread, the Volt should do much better than this.

Chris

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The Volt will actually be unique and cool. Problem is this is just another Prius. These eco-freaks are werid they want everyone to know what they drive. Just one reason why the Civic Hybrid did so poorly. Just a few more pieces of ass on the roads I guess. Can I ask who really cares, the Volt is way better looking and is unique. These eco-freaks want everyone to know they have a plug-in so the Volt should walk over this, plus the Volt isn't ugly like the Prixus. The next car I get will be hybrid too, burning gas and rubber.

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Why not one of each? A Volt and a Camaro would make a nice garage...

And we already KNOW how you feel about a nice comfortable 4 dr GM sedan....hmmm....

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The Volt will actually be unique and cool. Problem is this is just another Prius. These eco-freaks are werid they want everyone to know what they drive. Just one reason why the Civic Hybrid did so poorly. Just a few more pieces of ass on the roads I guess. Can I ask who really cares, the Volt is way better looking and is unique. These eco-freaks want everyone to know they have a plug-in so the Volt should walk over this, plus the Volt isn't ugly like the Prixus. The next car I get will be hybrid too, burning gas and rubber.

If hybrid drivers buy a hybrid so that people know they drive a hybrid (I've heard there are studies to support this... although the uptake of cars like the Fusion and Camry hybrids seem to contradict it), then that should be an advantage for the Prius as it is already well known to be a hybrid. The relative good looks of the Volt might hide the fact that it is "different".

The reason why the Prius will do better than the Volt, should Toyota choose to produce it in real numbers, is because the plug-in Prius is a better solution for this market. The Prius will likely be about ~$12,000 less than a Volt (~23,000 for a Prius - Existing battery + Plug + 5KWh Li Battery), it allows more drivers to use more of the battery more of the time (it has a battery less than 1/3 the size of the Volt's and is able to use a greater % of it... or to look at it another way, the Volt is always hauling around a dead-weight battery that is over 150% bigger than the Prius' total battery capacity), it will almost certainly get significantly better fuel economy on the ICE than the Volt, and it will come across as relatively proven technology.

I think the Volt is better looking and will offer slightly better performance, but drivers in the class have already demonstrated that looks aren't a deciding factor, nor do I think a ~10% faster 0-60 time will sway them.

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