First Glimpse of Toyota Plug-in Prius Concept

By Bill Moore

Posted: 01 Sep 2009

The above of the image is purported to be of what Toyota's Plug-in Prius concept vehicle will look like. The image was recently posted on Prius-PT.com, a Portuguese language Prius fan web site.

Toyota announced earlier this year that it would be introducing a plug-in version of the Prius in earlier demonstrations starting late this year and into 2010, which possible commercial sales by 2012.

The company has not announced vehicle performance data yet; presumably that could come during the auto show later this month. Unlike the Chevy Volt, the Prius plug-in will likely operate in a blended mode where the gasoline engine is always available to provide power assist when needed. In the Volt, the engine, which acts only as an electric power generator, will only operate once the car's battery pack reaches its predetermined charge depletion point, said to be around 40 miles. What the "EV-only" range of the Prius is will be determined by the capacity of the battery pack and the chemistry being used, presumably lithium-ion. The current production Prius uses nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries and has an electric operating range of approximately a mile.

Toyota makes the point that because plug-ins rely on the electric power grid for some fraction of their energy needs, the cleaner the local grid in terms of emissions, the more environmental sense a plug-in makes compared to the overall emissions of a standard Prius hybrid operating on gasoline. From its perspective, France with its 70% reliance on nuclear power, is an ideal candidate for vehicles of this type. And while Germany's grid is more carbon intensive, its strong push for solar and wind renewables, makes its a strong contender as well.

Thanks to Richard Harding in England for this tip.

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