prototype 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, April 2010Enlarge Photo
That will all change in Frankfurt in just under a month, when Toyota will unveil the official production version of its 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.
Based on the 2012 Toyota Prius, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will feature the same 1.8 liter engine and 60 kilowatt electric motor found in the standard Prius.
Unlike its sibling, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid comes with an extended 5.2 kilowatt-hour battery pack, on-board charger and revised software enabling it to travel at up to 60 mph on electric power alone.
Firstly, we’re expecting the battery pack - an improved 5.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion pack - to be slightly smaller in physical size than the battery pack found in the prototypes, increasing the load-bay area a little from the slightly smaller load-bay we griped about in the prototype.
Toyota Prius Plug-InEnlarge Photo
Secondly, we’re expecting Toyota to increase the range of the Plug-in Prius slightly, improving on the disappointing 13 mile all-electric range of the prototype in order to make it more appealing to first-time plug-in buyers. We’ve heard nothing to confirm this, but several sources close to Toyota have hinted the range will increase.
Thirdly, as we’ve said before, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid needs a range sustaining and a pure electric mode. The prototypes we’ve driven haven't allowed us to chose when the car will enter all-electric mode, meaning that it is always the first 13 or so miles which are driven in electric mode.
Enabling a charge sustaining mode (to prevent the plug-in battery pack from depleting until it is needed) could help improve the overall fuel economy of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid.
Finally, we’d expect the Prius Plug-in Hybrid to include some form of telematics to enable drivers to time charging and pre-heating of the cabin. These features were absent on the prototypes we drove - and are a must in order to offer the same level of functionality found on the Prius Plug-in Hybrid’s direct competitors.
Of course, our predictions are pure speculation and we’ll have to wait another month to find out for sure what tweaks Toyota has made to its first Plug-in Hybrid.
We'll bring you complete coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, here, once it starts on September 13.