It’s official: next year Toyota will launch not one, but three plug-in vehicles in the year ahead. 

Announced at Toyota’s Annual National Dealer meeting in Las Vegas, the trio of vehicles will consist of one plug-in hybrid and two pure electric vehicles to the U.S. market by the end of 2012. 

While each vehicle will be an electric adaptation of an existing car, Toyota’s new plug-in vehicles span a range of uses and lifestyles, from city runabouts through to long-legged commuting vehicles. 

Here’s a quick guide to the three plug-in cars you’ll see from Toyota next year. 

2012 Toyota RAV4 EV

As promised last year at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show and featuring a drivetrain developed in partnership with Californian electric automaker Tesla Motors, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV will be a no-compromise electric drivetrain version of Toyota’s existing RAV4. 

Toyota claims the RAV4 EV will have the same luggage capacity as its gasoline sibling, and almost identical performance, thanks to the Tesla engineered battery pack and drivetrain. 

From a market perspective, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV should be a roaring success with consumers and the industry alike.

Leveraging the RAV4’s existing reputation, familiarity and Tesla’s legendary performance, we think the new RAV4 EV could make Toyota a market leader in a segment currently crying out for an all-electric model. 

Toyota iQ EV prototype

Toyota iQ EV prototype

2012 Scion IQ EV

Also joining the product lineup for 2012 will be the 2012 Scion IQ EV. Just like the RAV4 EV, the Scion IQ EV is based on a gasoline car already made by Toyota.

Barely longer than a Smart ForTwo, the Scion IQ is Toyota’s city car. Popular in Japan and Europe already as a 3+1 car for those wanting something a little bigger than the aging Smart ForTwo, an all-electric IQ is obviously Toyota’s attempt to offer a similarly sized car for urbanites. 

But with subcompact minicars representing a tiny proportion of the total automotive market, we’re not sure if the clever Scion IQ EV will be be well received in a market where space is a given, not a luxury. 

Toyota Prius Plug-In

Toyota Prius Plug-In

2012 Toyota Plug-in Prius

Finally, Toyota’s plug-in trio will be completed by its 2012 Plug in Prius. 

Offering better gas mileage than Toyota’s standard 2012 Prius along with an all-electric range of around 14 miles at city speeds, Toyota’s Plug-in Prius could make an excellent transitional vehicle for those hybrid drivers looking to make the switch to electric.

But with slower performance and poorer handling than the standard 2012 Prius thanks to its larger battery pack, we’re not sure how many consumers will stump up the extra cash to get plugged. 

After all, at an estimated $33,000 the 2012 Prius Plug in is roughly the same price as the 2011 Nissan Leaf SV, capable of much further range between charges. 


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