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2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid: 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show Preview

 
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prototype 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, April 2010

prototype 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, April 2010

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You might have just one week left  to register your interest in buying a 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, but we still haven't yet seen a production version of Toyota's first plug-in hybrid yet.

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. 

While we’ve clocked several thousand miles behind the wheel of the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid prototype, we’re expecting the production version debuting in  Frankfurt to differ in several key areas.

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-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In

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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.

[Toyota]

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Comments (3)
  1. Thanks for the article! Can't wait for more detailed reviews.

    If the new battery behaves like the current one, it should be able to be recharged after depleting.

    Let's say, before reaching highway, the plug-in Prius can be driven totally depending on electricity. Once you get to a highway, most likely it would switch to mainly gas mode, and recharge the battery. By the time you get off the highway, you probably have a fully charged battery for another 13 miles of electricity only range. Is this how it works? Thanks!
     
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  2. Say a fully charged PHV pack provides 15 miles. If you drive 5 miles local in EV mode, you will have 10 miles before you jump on the highway. It'll maintain /sustain that 10 miles charge in the battery.

    When you regen brake, that range may go up. If you apply heavy acceleration, it may drop down. The computer will target the 10 miles remembered from when you hit the button. So when you exit the highway, you'll have 10 miles left in the battery.

    If your office is 1 mile away from the highway exit, you may want to hit the button 9 miles away from the highway exit.
     
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  3. There are Prius PHV prototypes with the pre-condition feature. The specific one you test drove probably did not.
     
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