Prius Plug-in Hybrid Coming to US ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Prius Plug-in Hybrid Coming to US

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Prius Plug-in Hybrid Coming to US

The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) will be coming to the US in limiited numbers (150 in lease-fleet) for testing and marketing purposes. 350 other plug-in Prius models will be delivered in late 2009 across the globe.

The demonstration fleet will be placed in 'strategic clusters' to create and evaluate various driving scenarios. The clusters will also be chosen based on a consideration of communications and charging structures. Toyota will be gathering customer feedback on their expectations and evaluations on how their plug-in does in 'real world' driving.

The plug-in hybrid Prius will have 12 miles of all electric range, after which the plug-in will become just another Prius. The 12 miles of all electric range are powered by an (overnight) full charge from plugging in and powering up a lithium-ion battery pack.

That 12 mile range may be considered low, when you consider the Chevy Volt is supposed to get up to 40 miles of all electric range. But the 12 mile range will most likely allow the plug-in Prius to be sold at a much lower price. A recent study shows consumers would seriously consider a plug-in if it comes in at 12% over the current prices.

The Volt will most likely be priced at $40,000, which puts that way over that 12% limit. The Plug-in Prius then, with a smaller battery pack, is more likely to appeal on a financial basis.

Toyota is still evaluating the use of lithium-ion battery packs. According to the press release, part of the demonstration fleets purpose is specifically to evaluate lithium-ion battery's durability, reliability and performance. You can add an evaluation of the safety risks involved in using lithium-ion battery packs as well.

The 2010 Prius Plug-in will be on hand at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

"Although we like to be first to market with these technologies, it’s more important that we are best to market," said Irv Miller, TMS group vice president, environmental and public affairs. "This demonstration program will ensure that the vehicles we bring to market will not just meet customer expectations, but exceed them."

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