Well, now we've driven a prototype of the 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid that Toyota will sell in the U.S.
What's it like? It's just like driving a standard Toyota Prius hybrid. Only more so.
The 2012 Plug-In will be the first Toyota that can be plugged into the electric grid to recharge its battery pack since it sold several hundred RAV4e electric vehicles a decade ago.
But unlike the RAV4e, the Prius Plug-In Hybrid carries the entire Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain of a conventional Prius.
Its battery pack is larger, and it uses lithium-ion cells rather than the older nickel-metal-hydride chemistry of its conventional brethren. (Toyota has decided that particular lithium blend, however, is a dead end; production 2012 Plug-Ins might use a different variety.)
The Prius Plug-In runs in electric mode for longer, and at higher speeds, than a standard 2010 Prius hybrid. But like the stock vehicle, it recharges its battery using spare power from its engine and through regenerative braking.