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Prius Plug-in Concept to Support All-Electric Driving Up To About 12 Miles at Speeds Up To 62MPH

The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept. Click to enlarge.

Toyota has provided some initial details on the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept to be unveiled next week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The Plug-in Prius will support an all-electric driving range of about 20 km (12.4 miles) miles at speeds up to 62 mph. Over longer distances and higher speeds, the Prius Plug-in switches to conventional gasoline-electric full hybrid operation. The extended electric range brings CO2 emissions down to around 60 g/km, according to Toyota.

Toyota’s presentation of the new concept, which is based on the new third-generation Prius, comes ahead of a test program that will see more than 500 cars leased to customers worldwide for real-world evaluation of performance and monitoring of driver attitudes and experiences. Approximately 150 of these will be in Europe, with another 150 in the US and 200 in Japan. (Earlier post.)

Europe’s population is increasingly urban-centered, and Toyota research into commuting patterns shows that in the UK and France, more than 80% of car journeys cover a distance of less than 25 km (16 miles); in the UK around 80% are less than 10 km (6 miles) long. Toyota says that these figures confirm the potential for electricity in providing short to mid-term sustainable mobility.

The concept plug-in model builds on the core technology of Hybrid Synergy Drive specifically to meet the needs of urban motorists. It is a full hybrid vehicle in which both the electric motor and gasoline engine can drive the wheels: the fully electric EV mode is used for shorter distances, while the gasoline engine provides long-range capability.

The Prius Plug-in Concept’s powertrain is similar in format to the Hybrid Synergy Drive used in the new Prius (earlier post), but with the nickel-metal hydride battery pack replaced by a new, high-output lithium-ion battery—a first for a Toyota hybrid vehicle. The Li-ion pack can be fully recharged in one-and-a-half hours from a 230V power supply.

To help drivers maximize the benefits of driving in EV mode, it is equipped with a Hybrid System Indicator, which includes information on the EV driving range, based on the level of battery charge. An engine starting point display has also been added to emphasize the increase in EV driving range.

The Electro Multi-Vision screen on the dashboard also offers a display that highlights the plug-in hybrid’s contribution to reducing CO2 emissions, showing a computer graphic image of single tree that gradually increases to whole forest as the battery charging process takes place.


Henry Gibson

CALCARS could have demostrated a hundred mile electric range Prius three years ago with a hundred thousand dollars; they have greatly helped in making the plug in hybrid Prius real with great resistance from TOYOTA. It is nice to have the higher electric speed. This type of car should become obsolete with the advent of serious series hybrids. Even hydraulic hybrids with no batteries can give most of the fuel efficiencies of this too expensive car. ..HG..


How many years of market testing do we need before these things are introduced?

You take my remote control car I played with 25 years ago, add a little Honda generator to it to recharge the batteries, and scale it up 10 times. Bam, you have a series hybrid that could reduce gasoline use by 3/4. It's not that expensive or complex.

Is it significant that this "concept" uses lithium based batteries?


A PHEV-20 (Km) at speed up to 100 kph is a very reasonable first step. A much smaller (7 to 8 Kwh?)battery pack should be enough. The total vehicle price should be a lot less than the new GM Volt. Many more people will be able to afford this limited range upgrable PHEV.

As higher performance, lighter, smaller, cheaper battery packs become available, this type of Prius III-PHEV could be quickly upgraded to PHEV-40 (Km) or PHEV-100 (Km) without major effects on total price.

Making use of an excellent existing mass produced platform is a very wise approach to progressive mass produced PHEVs.


This should fall under the title *A day late and a dollar short.*

In addition to the CALCARS mod Henry noted there's also the Hymotion upgrade;

The Goracle


an all-electric driving range of about 20 km (12.4 miles) miles...

AWESOME!!! Lets drive it on a cross country road trip to show your typical republican, gas-using, middle-America, morons how great electric energy is! Twelve miles a day... it will only take about EIGHT months to drive across country! We are SOooooo smart! Presently, you can't drive across country in less than one year.

Praise be to Algore.



As can be seen, compared to the US, Europe has much more denser infrastructure allowing smaller vehicle miles to service fairly large portions of the populations needs.

We will have to wait to see what Toyoto brings out to combat the coming Volt but this would be comparable to the Volts effectiveness in the US for Europe at most likely a lower price point.

I frankly don't like the series parallel though for this use. Too complicated a system. I expect full Ev's to be commercial soon and this technology evolution and extension might be a weak spot for Toyota in the future.



Haven't you realized that this is a first generation PHEV-20 (Km) and that it will keep going as a very efficient (50+ mpg) family car for another 900+ Km before you have to stop for gas or a battery recharge or both?


This (most probably very reliable) Prius III series/parallel PHEV-20 (Km) may be $10 K + cheaper than the new GM series Volt. It will sell very well outside USA where Volts may not.

The Prius III PHEV-20 (Km) will quick be upgraded to PHEV-60 (Km) and even PHEV-100 (Km) as soon as e-storage units mature. Upgrading could be done every second year or so with the same plaform at very little extra cost.

Prius III and IV and V PHEVs will have a great future untill the BEV version comes out.


"This should fall under the title *A day late and a dollar short.*"

NO!! Toyota is right on the money. The BEV is a niche for at least another decade.
The "all electric" range is just a Marketing gimmick. The only thing that would move PHEVs & BEVs from Dealer's lots is $15/gal gas.
And when that happen, people wouldn't have money to spend on new cars.


This is a very sensible first attempt at a mass-market PHEV. The larger Hymotion battery pack works great, but it's too expensive (for now) to have mass-market appeal. The PHEV Prius has a much better chance at market acceptance than the Volt; the Prius will come to market first; and as better battery options become cost-effective Toyota will no doubt offer longer-range options.

Enough Americans comute (each way) less than the EV range of this PHEV Prius, that assuming that they can charge at both ends, having a plug-in makes sense. Hopefully, this will give employers, businesses and landlords a good nudge in the direction of building out charging infrastructure.


Selecting the right all-electric range is partly analysis and partly fortune telling.

To me 12 miles aims too low. Toyota thinks not. We shall see.

Going low saves money and perhaps allows earlier production. It risks making your offering look inferior.

Overseas markets were probably as important in choosing that range as the US market.

Stan Peterson

As a firm devotee of the game-changing Volt, I want and welcome the spread of electric vehicles by all competitors. One of the benefits of the Plug-in PHEV-10 Prius, is that the concept of mixes mileage, will be easier to demonstrate to many motorists. The concept of, and the larger benefits of, some fuel mileage coming from the wall circuit, and some from gasoline will spread.

There will be a real-world re-play of the UC Davis experience in the laboratories of the benefits of Parallel-series, Parallel-series plug-ins, and Series-EREV plug-in vehicles. Dr. Frank and his graduate students, haves done this contest before; and his discovered answers will sooner or later prevail.

It will also bump up the EPA figures for the Prius and help bring foreword the day until we can be eliminating petroleum as a security or economic issue, all together.

The sooner that the cartelistic power of the OPEC is broken, and Oil prices return to somewhere near cost of production, the better off the World as a whole, will be. The end of oil cartels, and the corruption it has brought to Oil countries, will help them in the long run too. Congratulations Toyota. Meanwhile...

The ICEage is ending. Embrace the VOLTage.

Roger Pham

This is about how the initial GM Volt should have been designed, with ~12-20 miles of all-electric range, and parallel hybrid design with much smaller electrical components. Of course, to overcome Toyota's patents on the HSD, the Volt may be equipped with a two-speed two-mode hybrid drive train, instead of the power-split planetary gearing. That way, the Volt could have cost ~25k USD instead of $40k USD, and be competitive with other forthcoming PHEV's.

All electric range (AER)is not as important as being affordable to the public. Even with 12-mi AER, the PHEV Prius will enjoy much faster acceleration due to the superior power of the battery, and better braking energy recuperation, and better load-leveling ability of the electrical drive train in order to allow the engine to run in even more efficient range. Hence, overall energy efficiency will be much enhanced, even in the gasoline mode.

Mr. Goracle, why driving the PHEV Prius only 12 miles a day when crossing America, when there is an engine on-board and a long-range fuel tank capable of 500+ miles before fueling up? Afterall, the advantage of a PHEV is that you can have infinite range as long as you can stop once every 10 hours to fill up the tank. Can your bladder hold up that long? :)


Everyone on this thread misses the point that the even though a plug in Prius can go 12 miles at speeds up to 62 mph, it can't do that at significant driving power levels. AER is only definable for an E-REV that can actually hold the engine off under all driving conditions.

So even when there is energy in the battery, and speeds less than 62 mph, the engine will go on and off based on power. The power of the battery and the motor and the thermal system capacity will not support full EV driving. So there is no all electric range. There is a partial electric range, not all electric. This means less petroleum displacement on short trips, and way less displacement on longer trips.

Henry Gibson

As stated, long range battery electric vehicles are bad engineering. Toyota did have to add higher electric speed, but by just adding a small Zebra battery to their vehicle along with the original battery they could have demonstrated a 50 mile plug-in-hybrid five years ago. ..HG..


As stated, long range battery electric vehicles are bad engineering.

It's relative; the all electric range of a car should be designed to meet the 'actual' needs of the owner instead of the imagined needs. If your daily commute is only 10 miles then this is the right car for you.

As stated, a BEV with a 20 mile range would cover 100% of the trips I needed to do last year.
A BEV with a 100 mile range would cover 100% of the trips I did do last year.
A BEV with a 200 mile range would cover 100% of the trips I wanted to do last year.
Does that mean I need a 200 mile range BEV? No.


Can I just point out that to get this 12 mile range, the car only needs 2.4 kWh of available battery capacity.

The first generation (1997) Prius had a 1.8 kWh battery, so simply doubling this to 3.6 kWh and allowing 70% SOC cycling gives you the 12 mile range. I appreciate that this would require a different battery chemistry to cope with the cycle/calender life issues, but I really think that by using such a small battery Toyota can make this PHEV-12 at a pricepoint not much higher than the current Prius (and a lot lower than the Volt).

Will S

I agree with Stan (one of his best posts ever). This provides customers with another electric/ICE combination that widens the choice of offerings. I find I can stay all-electric on my 2005 Prius in many urban/suburban situations (engine always kicks in when speed exceeds 40mph), so having a higher speed threshold for the engine engagement will greatly increase the all-electric portion of the distance driven.

The Goracle continues to haunt the distant fringes; note that few people drive across country these days (and could still do so easily with the Prius III as Roger points out), but a large majority do need to commute or otherwise travel short distances daily, so addressing the need is the priority. This allows a mix of choices, in addition to those for mass transit, telecommuting, cycling, etc.


And the most important question remains unsanswered: how much does it cost?



The extra cost (over a Prius III) may not be much over $5K. Lower cost mass produced Hybrid systems + batteries (over 2 000 000 so far) will make that possible.

Lets not forget that e-range will progressively increase with on-board e-storage units higher performance (from 100 Wh/Kg to 500 Wh/Kg) and lower cost (from $1000/Kwh to $200/Kwh).

Within 5-6 years, various size PHEV-100+ (Km) will be common place at an affordable price. The size of the on-board e-storage unit will be an option.

Of course, BEVs will eventually compete with PHEVs within one or two decades. After 2020/25, many will turn to BEVs and forget about ICE and PHEVs (for light vehicles). PHEVs may be an economic solution for heavy long range vehicles for a much longer time frame.

A very interesting transition decade ahead.



Is your "two-speed two-mode hybrid drive train", as proposed here, and explained in a recent post, covered by US patent 6740002 (by Stridsberg)?


There is no magic bullet here - this system will work for a certain percentage of the population and it is a good option to have with the threshold speeds of operation bumped up for a responsible commuter.

If you drive mega mileage every day - sorry this is not the car for you and maybe you should re-evaluate your life choices if you don't like it. Hauling around a thousand pounds of batteries is just brutally counterproductive particularly when you go dumping the ICE - crazy talk at this point in time. For one - there is a complete absence of charging capability - the infrastructure requirements are just not gaining enough traction.

I happily anticipate a highly refined and well developed product as I have come to expect from Toyota. Personally I own a PHEV converted Gen II - I think I am better off with the base HEV at this point - and when considering purely costs of purchase and operation - would probably fair better with a manual Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris.


Different strokes .. etc.

Do I need 12 mi AER and speeds up to 62 mph ?

Do I need all the amenities, good acceleration, 40 Mi AER, 300 mi (extended) range ?

Of course not.

I NEED to walk, bike and take mass transit more.

Not gonna happen. Not enough to get rid of my car anyway.

I mean "Do I need it to feel good?".

Yes, that's why Prius sells. I'm not too warm about the styling and price, but a really good car.

The Volt? Even pricier, but a really nice car (probably) with 1 million mpg day after day right out of the box and just pennies for kWH - except for the occasional longer trip (and did I mention the price).

A normal Focus, Corolla, Altima, Camry, Malibu etc? Really nice cars - and fiscally responsible.

What to do.

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