Plug-In Prius Hybrid Vehicles Hit the Road in North America
The Toyota 2010 Plug-in Prius, long anticipated by environmentally-conscious drivers, debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in December and offers drivers both an all-electric mode and a hybrid mode.
Based on the third generation of Toyota Prius technology, the vehicle uses a lithium-ion battery to enable operations in full electric mode. When completely charged, the Toyota Plug-In Prius is able to reach 60 miles per hour in all-electric mode, with a range of 13 miles. Drivers wanting to go longer distances can change to “hybrid mode” and operate the plug-in like a regular Prius. The versatile option of utilizing electric power for brief trips or hybrid power for longer trips solves the problem of limited distances posed by other all-electric vehicles.
Toyota’s FAQ about the plug-in notes that the smaller battery used in the plug-in Prius lowers the cost of the vehicle and provides a better carbon footprint. Frequent charging every twenty or so miles produces lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional hybrid vehicles.
Toyota has placed 150 plug-in Prius vehicles in various regions of the US, using selected partners for analysis and technical presentations. In Boulder, Colorado, for example, ten plug-in Prius vehicles will be used by city residents who will take part in research coordinated by the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Toyota is hoping to cull consumer feedback regarding plug-in vehicle usage, and gain a better understanding of consumer expectations. Technical research on the new plug-in Prius will look at the performance of the lithium-ion battery and how to encourage charging station infrastructure for public use. The plug-in vehicles will be outfitted with data retrieval devices to monitor when and how often charging occurs, if batteries are topped off or depleted when charging, trip length, driving range, and miles per gallon in various modes.