We’ve been waiting for this for a long time! The production version of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will have it’s world premiere at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in mid-September. To a confirmed Hybrid Synergy Drive enthusiast like myself, it seems as if Toyota has been teasing us about this for years. That’s only because they have been. Toyota first unveiled the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Prius as a concept at the 2009 Frankfurt show. Since then, Toyota has placed hundreds of prototypes around the world as test fleets in an effort to collect feedback in real-world situations on things like: how the system performs, consumer charging habits and the effects of vehicle charging on the power grid.
Toyota calls the Prius Plug-in the “next major milestone” in the automaker’s decades-long “quest for sustainable mobility”. The company affirms it will continue to focus on hybrids without a plug. Still, Toyota describes the Plug-in Prius as the “ultimate eco car” and expects it to be the flagship of the Prius line showcasing “the latest development of the company’s modular Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) platform”.
As mentioned in earlier posts, the production version of the PHEV Prius will have a selectable EV driving mode that can be used for trips longer than city driving. This would allow the driver to conserve energy for electric-only local driving. A button will allow the driver to turn the EV mode on or off. The production version of the PHEV Prius will also take advantage of regenerative energy to recharge the complete battery pack just like the standard Prius to extend the time the car can spend in EV mode. This is an important addition because the Prius Plug-in prototypes did not allow full recharging of the whole battery pack – only the third of the pack that mimicked a regular Prius would recharge. Now, the car’s regenerative mode will reportedly have the ability of full pack charging. Unlike the mainstream Prius, the Plug-in version comes with an extended 5.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, an on-board charger and revised software enabling it to travel at up to 60 mph on electric power alone.
Speculation is that the production model’s battery pack – an improved version of the prototype’s lithium-ion battery, will be slightly smaller in size, thereby increasing the cargo-bay area a little. Another guess is that Toyota will slightly increase the electric-only range of the production Plug-in Prius. Bloggers have long griped about the ‘measly’ 13 mile all-electric range of the prototype and extending that would probably attract more first-time buyers. Expect Toyota to stay with the smaller battery strategy though because that allows the automaker to keep the price of the Prius PHEV much lower than the Chevy Volt.
Another thing – expect the production Prius Plug-in to take advantage of Toyota’s development partnership with Microsoft by offering in-car cloud-based technology to provide user information to and from the car to computers and smart phones. This new cloud computing is currently being tested in Japan as part of Toyota’s Smart Center trials where it is linking people, their cars and homes in order to locate and monitor battery charging stations, among other things.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid will go on sale in the U.S. in the Spring of 2012 and in Europe next Summer.
Tags: green, greenest company, Hybrid, Prius, Smart Motors, Smart Toyota, smartplanet.com, Toyota
This just in from Smartplanet.com, “You might not be surprised to see Toyota, the Japanese automaker behind the pioneering Prius hybrid, rank amongst the most environmentally conscious car manufacturers.
But a recent study by brand monitoring company Interbrand found the company to be the world’s greenest brand overall, besting multinational corporations like 3M, Siemens, and Johnson & Johnson.”
For more information visit: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/transportation/toyota-is-ranked-as-worlds-greenest-brand/700