Toyota has just launched the production version of its 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid at the Green Drive Expo held in Richmond, California.

Toyota will most likely launch the production version of its 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show, to be held in mid-November.

Just this week, the company introduced the plug-in Prius to European buyers at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

And, along with specifications, it provided rough prices: "below €37,000 in Germany and below £31,000 in the U.K." At today's exchange rates, that translates to less than $50,900 in Germany and less than $48,900 in the U.K.

Which sounds frighteningly expensive, doesn't it? Ah, but remember, Europeans pay more for cars than North Americans, for a variety of reasons, including purchase tax built into the price.

So we're going to hazard some guesses about how Toyota will price the 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid in the States when the cars arrive at dealers in the first half of next year.

[NOTE: To our amusement, literally a couple of hours after we published this article, Toyota released the actual pricing. The base price of the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In will be $32,760 (including destination), while the Plug-In Hybrid Advanced model costs $40,285. Both models will likely qualify for a $2,500 Federal tax credit, although the government has not yet certified them as eligible.)

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Drive - March 2011

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Drive - March 2011

Let's start by comparing base prices. In the U.S., the 2011 Toyota Prius V (today's top-of-the-line model) starts at $28,790. In Germany, the high-end Prius Executive costs 29,050 ($40,000), and in the U.K., the "T-Spirit" model is listed at £24,045 ($37,950).

The three models aren't identical, but the cars are similar enough that they can serve as a rough comparison. That means the top-of-the-line German Prius costs 1.39 times as much as its does in the U.S. For the U.K., the ratio is 1.32.

Applying those back to the dollar prices of the European Prius Plug-In, we get a possible U.S. price range of $36,630 (Germany) to $37,050 (U.K.).

But a year ago this month, Toyota suggested that the 2012 Prius Plug-In could be the least expensive plug-in hybrid sold in the U.S. The price premium over a non-plug-in Prius quoted then was $3,000 to $5,000, most likely over the top-of-the-line Prius already on sale.

That would price the plug-in at $31,800 to $33,800, or several thousand dollars lower than the adjusted European prices.

prototype 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, April 2010

prototype 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, April 2010

(NOTE: The charge door above on the left-front fender of prototype plug-in Priuses has been moved to the right-rear fender on the production version shown in Frankfurt. We'll have more details on other changes to the 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid in a future article.)

So what Toyota will charge for the car? We haven't the vaguest idea. But if we had to hazard a guess, we'd peg it somewhere between $32,900 and $35,900.

Of course, right now, there are no other plug-in hybrids on the market. Toyota will be the first maker to sell a conventional parallel hybrid that also plugs in to recharge the battery pack. (There's an asterisk for the Chevy Volt, but we're not going there today.)

The Prius Plug-In pricing projection is all speculative on our part, and we'll be the first to admit that. But we thought it would be an interesting exercise anyhow.

Where do you think Toyota will price the plug-in Prius? Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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