Photo: Flickr, CC
But Limited Numbers at First
Toyota has announced today that they will be selling a plug-in version of the 3rd generation Prius around 2011. Sadly, the biggest auto maker in the world by volume will only be dipping its toe with "only several tens of thousands of cars a year," at least at first. Hopefully if all goes well, production will be ramped up rapidly to meet demand, otherwise Toyota risks falling behind competitors with more aggressive EV and PHEV goals, but more importantly, a lack of supply could slow down the growth of the electrification of transportation, leaving us dependent on polluting fossil fuels longer. There's also talk of a full EV for 2012.
Photo: Flickr, CC
Technical Details on Plug-In Prius Hybrid
It's a bit early, so we don't have a full specification sheet for the plug-in Prius, but here's what has transpired so far: Toyota wants it to have an "affordable price tag," which probably explains why the electric range will only be about 14.5 miles (23.4 kilometers). It will be the first Toyota vehicle to use lithium-ion batteries (Toyota's current hybrids use NiMH batteries).
According to Toyota it gets "an overall mileage of 57 kilometers a liter, or 134 miles per gallon." Take that number with a grain of salt, though. The methodology for measuring the fuel efficiency of plug-in vehicles has many problems.
Charging time should be approximately 100 minutes (probably on a 220v charger?).
Electric Car Coming in 2012
Toyota is also saying that it will make a 100% electric urban vehicle in 2012, but as usual, it doesn't seem very enthusiastic about pure EVs (possibly because it has so much invested into hybrid powertrains).
Not much details yet, but maybe it will be based on the FT-EV concept, which is based on the Toyota iQ urban microcar. We're kind of hoping for something a bit bigger that could appeal to more people and compete with the Nissan Leaf (competition usually means faster progress and better products). Maybe an EV based on the Yaris or Corolla platform?
More Toyota News
Top Gear Names 3rd Gen Toyota Prius "City Car of the Year" for 2009
Businessweek Includes Toyota Prius in "Fifty Ugliest Cars of the Past 50 Years"
Toyota Prius Hybrid Wins 2010 Car of the Year in Japan