Toyota's Plug-in Prius Ready to Contend with New Electric Cars
In the past decade, hybrid cars have become mainstream alternatives to gasoline-powered engines, and at the forefront of that movement stands the Toyota Prius. Prius sales worldwide have reached two million, as people from all walks of life have invested in a cleaner, greener way to travel. With various types of hybrids hitting the American market in coming years, people have wondered the direction Toyota would take the Prius. Declare the time for wondering over: soon, Toyota will take the next leap forward with the Prius Plug-in Hybrid (PHV).
The Prius + More
The basis for the PHV’s body comes from the current third generation Prius, with the primary difference in the new battery system. Three lithium-ion batteries – two for electric-only driving, and one for hybrid use – give the PHV 13 miles of gas-free range before returning to hybrid power. Mileage will vary, based on the type of driving, traffic, etc., but reports of over 100 mpg have occurred in tests with shorter trips and good conditions. Even in town, the PHV can top 70 mpg. The two smaller battery packs will reach a full charge in three hours on a regular (110-volt) outlet. As a result, the PHV can handle multiple errands during a day with charges in between and still start out in full electric mode every time. The PHV comes with a 24 foot cord with a standard three prong plug, so no special equipment requirements apply. However, those who prefer a quicker boost can add a 220-volt charging stations currently in development by Toyota. The 10.6 gallon gas tank puts worries about “range anxiety” to rest.
One of the few external differences between the PHV and the regular Prius can be found in the dashboard. The PHV gives the driver a wide array of performance-related information, including electric/hybrid usage ratios, battery charge levels, and total distance remaining. Drivers who like to see how “green” they’re driving will have a field day with the numbers at their disposal.
Plug-in Prius Price and Outlook
MSRP for the PHV currently stands at an estimated $27,000; however, as an added bonus, the first 60,000 PHVs sold in the United States will receive a $2,500 tax credit. PHV owners may experience the strange feeling of looking forward to filing their tax return.
The Prius PHV provides improved gas mileage, lower fuel costs, and a greener overall lifestyle. Combine that with the decade of know-how and quality from the Prius brand, and the PHV will receive positive attention from the day it reaches the showroom.