Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid
Unfortunately, no big revelations about the next-generation Toyota Prius at NextFest. We did learn that Toyota will modify some Prius hybrids to turn them into plug-in hybrids for fleet testing. These models will use lithium-ion battery packs, though the upcoming official Toyota plug-in hybrid will still use NiMH batteries like the current Prius (they store less power than li-ion, but Toyota tells us that they don't think li-ion is ready to meet their requirements for full scale deployment yet).
Here you can see the modified plug-in Prius they had on display.
It basically looks like a regular Prius except for this.
Toyota wanted to make sure that we knew that the car could be plugged into any ol' regular electric outlet.
Here we have a modified plug-in Prius charging off solar panels. This one is from Japan.
Here is what the screen looks like while it's charging.
Commercial production of Toyota plug-in hybrids should begin in 2010. Lets hope that in the meantime they'll make quicker-than-expected progress on the batteries (they have a partnership with Panasonic to develop new chemistries) and that they will use something better than NiMH.
WIRED NextFest 2008
WIRED NextFest is taking place in Chicago's Millenium Park between Saturday, September 27 and Sunday, October 12. It is free and open to the public. Just look for the big blue tent.