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Toyota Plug-in Prius to launch in 2012

Toyota Plug-in Prius to launch in 2012

Toyota will debut the production version of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) at the Frankfurt Motor Show on 15th September.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid represents the latest development of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) system, which has proved a reliable technology with over two million cars sold worldwide.

The new Prius Plug-in will become the flagship of the Prius range, a showcase for new technologies and further advances in hybrid technology. In 2012 it will join an expanded Toyota hybrid range consisting of the Prius, the British-built Auris hybrid, a seven-seat Prius+, and the new Yaris hybrid, demonstrating Toyota's commitment to Hybrid Synergy Drive technology.

The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid features a new, more compact lithium-ion battery. While some debate the relative merits of electric cars, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers drivers the best of both worlds; extended EV driving range for shorter journeys in towns and cities, while the efficient hybrid petrol engine gives the car uncompromised long range capability and the very low fuel consumption of the standard Prius.

The new battery offers extended EV (electric power only) range, which Toyota claim enables the Prius PHEV to achieve fuel efficiency of 128.4 mpg and CO2 emissions of just 49 g/km – almost half that of the standard Prius.

However, quoting a single fuel economy figure for a PHEV is difficult, as distance between charging – or whether the vehicle is plugged in for charging at all – makes considerable difference to the amount of fuel that will be used.

There is some debate as to the most appropriate fuel economy test cycle that should be used to provide a PHEV with a figure for fuel efficiency – many believe that it is not possible to quote a single figure as there is so much uncertainty.

In the US, the current standard is to provide a fuel economy label with two figures – one from an all electric test cycle and one from a cycle where the battery is depleted and the engine is used as much as possible.

This said, PHEVs certainly have the potential to be particularly more fuel efficient and less CO2 emitting than standard hybrid vehicles, if charged and driven in the 'correct' way. The Plug-in Prius is likely to return fuel costs that are lower than the existing Prius, as well as being eligible for incentives such as the Government's Plug-in Car Grant (worth up to £5,000).


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