Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, company’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to go on sale to the mass market, made its production vehicle world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid represents the latest development of the Toyota’s modular Hybrid Synergy Drive platform â€“ credible, trusted and reliable full hybrid technology with a proven track record garnered over more than 200 billion kilometers of driving worldwide.
Offering a considerable expansion of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system’s capabilities, Prius Plug-in Hybrid incorporates a lithium-ion battery to offer an EV driving range of approximately 14.3 miles (target figure). Beyond the electric driving range, it can be used as a conventional full hybrid with all the efficiency of a standard Prius, and fully recharged from a domestic source when convenient, in just an hour-and-a-half.
With a total HSD system power output of 134hp, Prius Plug-in Hybrid will accelerate from nought to 62mph in 10.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 112mph.
Its EV cruising range enables it to achieve remarkable fuel efficiency of 87 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) and achieve unprecedented CO2 figures of 49g/km (target figures).
Weighing approximately 1,420kg, Prius Plug-in Hybrid is only 50kg heavier than the regular Prius, and no heavier than any comparable diesel or petrol car in its segment.
Prius Plug-in Hybrid addresses the specific needs of drivers commuting to urban areas, and so will appeal to very similar customers to those who were early adopters of the first generation Prius.
Sales will start in early 2012, mainly in Japan, the USA and Europe, with anticipated annual sales of approximately 50,000 units.
The wealth of real-world user feedback generated by the global limited lease projects has enabled Toyota to re-evaluate every aspect of Prius Plug-in Hybrid’s performance. As a result, the production vehicle benefits not only from several key technological improvements over its lease project counterpart, but also considerable improvements to its everyday practicality and usability.
Prius Plug-in Hybrid features a new lithium-ion battery with a high capacity of 4.4kWh and a weight of only 80kg. This compares favourably to the nickel-metal hydride battery of the latest generation Prius, which has a capacity of 1.3kWh and weighs 42kg.
Using a battery charger inlet now relocated beneath a discreet, flush-mounted panel in the production vehicle’s right-hand rear wing, the battery pack can be fully recharged in 1.5 hours from a standard, 230V household outlet, with no need for an expensive fast-charger.
Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers the driver three switchable, ‘on-demand’ drive modes: HV, EV and EV-City.
With HV mode selected, Prius Plug-in Hybrid functions like a standard Prius. It delivers the classic, highly efficient Toyota HSD driving experience, seamlessly engaging the petrol engine as appropriate. The vehicle’s switchable EV mode range is preserved for use in urban environments.
With EV mode selected, Prius Plug-in Hybrid is able to draw upon the full capacity of the battery and will remain in electric drive mode, allowing for urban driving with minimal noise and zero CO2 and NOX emissions, for up to approximately 14.5 miles at speeds of up to 53mph.
The petrol engine will still start if the system judges that additional power is necessary, however the use of light to medium throttle inputs keeps it switched off throughout EV mode operation.
With EV-City mode selected, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid matches the EV mode’s characteristics. Increased electric operation is ensured by allowing more forceful use of the throttle before the petrol engine kicks in.
Switched separately, ECO mode may be independently activated when the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is operating in HV, EV or EV-City modes. In any drive mode, throttle response to accelerator pedal inputs is reduced and air-conditioning control adjusted for improved fuel economy. Depending on driving conditions, ECO mode can help drivers achieve a perceptible reduction in fuel consumption.
Exclusive design with practical and technologically advanced interior
In recognition of its status as the next generation eco car from the Toyota hybrid stable, several subtle exterior detail changes differentiate Prius Plug-in Hybrid from the standard Prius.
The front of the car features an exclusive grille and front bumper design. To the rear, a clear lens combination lamp design further differentiates the new vehicle from the standard Prius. A high-brightness silver finish has been adopted for the door handles, licence plate trim and battery charger lid, and the vehicle features Plug-in Hybrid badging on the front wings and tailgate.
Following lease customer feedback, the battery charger inlet has been relocated from the left front wing to a discreet, flush-mounted panel in the right-hand rear wing. Every aspect of the charging operation itself has also been reconsidered.
The Charge Circuit Interface Device (CCID) has been made more compact, and a 25 per cent lighter, more flexible charging cable that does not stiffen in cold weather has been developed. The battery charger lid has been incorporated into the cover for easier, single-operation closing, and it now features a battery charger indicator and LED illumination for better night-time visibility. As an additional safety measure, Prius Plug-in Hybrid cannot be started when the charging cable is connected.
On board, the quality of the interior has been raised through a new color scheme with silver inserts, a revised centre console design, and an improved multi-information display with improved EV driving support meter functions.
The air conditioning is coordinated with the standard front seat heaters. This enables the system to reach a comfortable temperature for the driver and passenger more quickly and efficiently, further improving the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
The installation of the new, more compact lithium-ion battery has allowed for a loadspace deck that is on a par with the standard Prius, and a luggage capacity of 443 liters. Under-boot storage of 40.5 liters means there is ample space to store the charging cable beneath the loadspace floor.