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2010 Prius Plug-in Hybrid Makes North American Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show; First Li-ion Battery Traction Battery Developed by Toyota and PEVE

Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Demonstration Program Vehicle 002. Click to enlarge.

The 2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicle (PHV) made its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Built specifically to support a global demonstration program that begins this month, the Prius PHV is based on the third-generation Prius. (Earlier post.)

The vehicle expands Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology with the introduction of a first generation lithium-ion battery that enables all-electric operation at higher speeds and longer distances than the conventional Prius hybrid. When fully charged, the vehicle is targeted to achieve a maximum electric-only range of approximately 13 miles and will be capable of achieving highway speeds up to 60 mph in electric-only (charge-depleting) mode.

“A lot of people are out there who believe that the batteries are done, that we can design essentially very large capacity batteries. The fact of the matter is that batteries are very expensive, with limitations on shelf life. So you design around the limitations. With a plug-in you get rid of range anxiety. If you do an EV with a 200-mile range, you have a long charge time, it's very expensive.”
—Bill Reinert, National Mgr. Advanced Technologies Group. Toyota, at the Bloomberg Cars & Fuels conference 1 Dec.

For longer distances, the Prius PHV reverts to charge sustaining mode and operates like a regular Prius. This ability to utilize all-electric power for short trips or hybrid power for longer drives alleviates the issue of limited cruising range encountered with pure electric vehicles.

The battery powering the Prius PHV is the first lithium-ion drive-battery developed by Toyota and its joint venture battery production company, Panasonic Electric Vehicle Energy (PEVE). In early November, PEVE began producing the first of more than 500 lithium batteries on a dedicated assembly line at its Teiho production facility in Japan.

This first-generation lithium battery has undergone more than three years of coordinated field testing in Japan, North America and Europe in a wide variety of climatic environments and driving conditions. Using approximately 150 conventional hybrids (mostly Prius), the field test vehicles logged well over a million combined miles. In the end, the battery was deemed both reliable and durable, confirming that it could indeed be used in conventional hybrid applications in the future, depending on further developments in cost reduction.

Operating in a more severe charge-depleting mode in PHV operation, the battery’s overall performance in a broad range of vehicle-use applications will be evaluated.

Beginning later this month, a total of 350 vehicles will begin delivery in Japan and Europe in support of model programs with business and government partners aimed at raising societal awareness of, and preparedness for, this important new technology.

Beginning early next year, 150 vehicles will start arriving in the US, where they will be placed in regional clusters with select partners for market/consumer analysis and technical demonstration.

On the consumer side, the US program will allow Toyota to gather real world vehicle-use feedback to better understand customer expectations for plug-in technology. On the technical side, the program aims to confirm, in a wide variety of real world applications, the overall performance of first-generation lithium-ion battery technology, while spurring the development of public-access charging station infrastructure.

All vehicles will be equipped with data retrieval devices which will monitor activities such as how often the vehicle is charged and when; whether the batteries are depleted or being topped off during charging; trip duration, all-EV driving range, combined mpg and so on.

In October, Toyota announced its first regional program partnership with Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity program in Boulder, Colo. (Earlier post.) Ten PHVs will be placed with Boulder residents who will participate in an interdisciplinary research project coordinated by the University of Colorado at Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a new joint venture between the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

RASEI, Xcel Energy and TMS will use this program to gather data on vehicle performance and charging patterns, consumer behavior and preferences, as well as electric utility/customer interactions. The locale offers the additional benefit of monitoring high altitude, cold climate performance of Toyota’s first generation lithium-ion battery.

Additional partners will be announced soon. Regional programs are currently slated for California, Washington D.C., New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Each placement scenario will have a variety of use cases to gain maximum input to vehicle performance and customer needs.

To assist with customer education, Toyota has launched a PHV demonstration program website: www.priusphv.com.



Toyota was talking down PHEVs, I guess they just did not CalCars and others messing with their existing Prius. That is an old trick that goes back beyond Carnegie, if others have a better idea, talk it down until it is yours and then it becomes a great idea that you promoted all along.


Bill Reinert is doing a little tap dance and spin there claiming that a 200mile range battery takes a long time to charge - while true, that pre-supposes the existing methodology of waiting until you are on empty before refilling (as one does with a liquid fuel).

With the exception of the occassional long trip, nearly anyone with an electric vehicle would be able to do much more shallow charge/discharge cycles every night. Just have to avoid the "hassle" of messing with an extension cord (just waiting for people to forget to unplug and drive off - somewhat analogous to people leaving the gas cap off when they drive). A big drive on inductive charging "mat" could work well. Auto-matic charging, no cords, and could be made generic to accept any plug-in vehicle.


The hype on PHEV is way ahead of the economics of the batteries.
Toyota is taking the sensible approach of incrementing the battery portion of traction as the economics warrant.
Toyota is not in the market of making Boutique cars for niches.


Any way you slice it the battery will still set you back 10 Large.


SJC nailed it. They are bad mouthing everything until their version is ready. Earlier this year, they were still bad-mouthing Lithium battery tech and saying it wasn't safe.
Now that they're ready to go to market with something it's a great new technology. Oh, and those companies doing full electric cars...well the batteries are not ready for that yet. LOL Whatever.
I guess it works because people seem to buy it.

Maybe this time Nissan will "steal a march" on Toyota and take the lead in BEVs with the Leaf. They both start to come to market next year so they will play in the same sandbox.


For every 10 miles of electric range you could displace roughly 3,000 miles per year's worth of petrol (5,000+ with charging at work / family / friends / shops)

Even a 13 mile range could provide enough electricity to cover about half of all miles driven and no worries about running out of power.

Roger Pham

This is just a "Global Demonstration Program," and not a finished product for the consumer market. Ultimate success of the PHEV will depend on the cost and durability of the Lithium battery pack. A PHEV Prius should not cost but a few thousands more over the conventional Prius in order for it to be accepted by the mass of consumers. With a short 13-mile all electric range and with the durability of A123 battery technology, this is feasible when the battery is mass produced.

13-mile electric range will fit the bill for me, since my daily round trip to work and home is only 15 miles. If charging facility is provided for at work, then a person with 25-mile daily driving needs can be provided for by grid electricity alone.


The early limited 20 Km e-range will be increased with every gain in battery peformance. New battery pack generations may come every 3 to 5 years.

Idealy, common sense PHEVs and BEVs could have 6+ plug-in (3 to 6 Kwh or so) battery pack modules. Every buyer would purchase the number of modules to meet his/her more pressing requirements and pocket book and add extra modules at a latter date, when price has gone down and performance has gone up.

Modular batteries could make early PHEVs and BEVs much more affordable.

Amother way to make early BEVs more affordable would be with the use of ultra light (300 Kg) C*ta body capable of going up to 25 Km on 1 Kwh. Most of us do not need a 3000+ lbs vehicle to go to work, go shopping, take the child to school etc.


Totally agree with you, Harvey. I've been saying for years that the auto industry needs an ATX like standard for electrical connections and for physical battery sizes. This would allow for commoditization and mass production of certain components (such as batteries).

While I agree with everyone regarding toyota's position on PHEVs and battery packs, Toyota really is making the most use battery material. 1,000,000 PHEVs with 3kw/h battery packs will put a much bigger dent in fuel consumption than 100,000 PHEVS with 30kw/h battery packs, all else being equal.



What could be done to sell the modular (battery-pack) approach to future PHEV/BEV makers and to convince potential buyers that they should ask for it?

The technical challenge could certainly be managed by most if not all major players within 1 or 2 years.

It could be a good project to use recovery $$$.

One could even rent extra modules for rare long trips. Why carry a 30 Kwh pack when a 9 or 12 Kwh pack would do it.


(just waiting for people to forget to unplug and drive off - somewhat analogous to people leaving the gas cap off when they drive).

Comon Patrick, just think for 1.5 seconds.

Any electric car will simply detect the power cord being attached in and refuse to move until it's unplugged.


This 13 mile EV range could be achieved with just 2.6 kWh available capacity, so say 3.5 kWh total battery capacity to allow gentle cycling.

That's less than double what the original Prius had (1.9 kWh) and would cost only $1,050 if using BYD's automotive LiFePO4 cells.

I think a lot of people would pay that much for the PHV option.



I agrre with you that most PHEV buyers could pau for the extra $1K battery pack and may be an extra similar battery module or two. We should have the choice or option.

We may have many different options available from 2010+.


I think the modular way has to be the way to go.
You could have 4, 6, 8 KwH levels for starters.

People already pay more for more powerful engines, so why wouldn't they pay more for extra battery storage.

+ it solves the marketing problem of how large to make the battery pack - the customers will decide.

Better still, the government would set standards so you could use 3rd party batteries.


The incremental battery idea could work. The on board computer keeps track of the load profiles and durations. If the car came with a 4kWh battery pack and you could upgrade in 4kWh increments up to say 16 kWh, then you might have batteries of various ages and capacities. The computer would store all this data and load/charge accordingly.

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