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To get a little bit of clarification on the reported 12-mile EV-only range that the plug-in Prius is achieving in current testing, we spoke with Toyota Prius vehicle specialist Stephanie Wohlgamuth, who is working at the Toyota booth here at the SAE World Congress. Wohlgamuth said that the number is fairly accurate, and that the vehicles are currently driving between seven and 14 miles on electrons only. While this is notably shorter than the Volt's 40-mile EV-only target, Toyota is giving itself time to work on the technology. Wohlgamuth said that the PHEV Prius will only be available as leased vehicles for fleets through 2012. All we can do is speculate as to when the purchase date for individual customers will be – Wohlgamuth wouldn't say if late 2012 or early 2013 was even in the ballpark.

This is quite a delay for Toyota. In fact, Wohlgamuth told us that Toyota had originally wanted to make the plug-in technology available in the third-generation Prius, which is launching in this spring. She wouldn't clarify what caused the hold-up or give any other details. There is one way that the Prius timeline is moving quickly, though: she said that pricing for the 2010 Prius will likely be announced this week.

A PHEV Prius wasn't available at Cobo Hall, but we've got plenty of pictures in our archive. The shots below are from late 2007.

UPDATE: We heard back from Toyota's Jaycie Chitwood and got a bit of clarification on the PHEV capability of the new Prius:
During its development, the new Prius was designed and engineered to package either the lithium-ion battery pack with plug-in capability, or the nickel-metal hydride battery for the conventional gas-electric system.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm sure aftermarket companies will offer lithium packs for the 2010 Prius.. and very soon.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota is being dragged, unwillingly, to the plug in marketplace - these latest details are not surprising given what they have said about a plug in version of the Prius previously.

      The appearance of the latest details, the plug in version not really available to the public for years now (even though we said it would be available and are still talking like it will be next year but not really) is very GM'esque.

      This isn't too surprising given that Toyota owns (not for too much longer perhaps) the hybrid market and the longer they can keep things in that (pure hybrid) marketplace the better for them. If the Volt disappeared, I would make the guess that the Prius Plug In would turn into a "research program" fairly quickly thereafter.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Electric might mean hydrogen-infused batteries... I have a non-technical person's vision of a "cheap" source of hydrogen: floating on the sea platforms of solar cells attached to hydrogen extractors, stored into pressurized canisters. The platform should have the smarts to submerge during a storm.

      Well, why not? Three quarters of the Earth's surface is water, and the sunlight energy is free.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If Toyota really doesn't offer the plug in hybrid by 2010 i will permanently incline towards honda insight and buy the insight rather than prius.
      Been waiting for a long time for the phev prius 2010 which i would buy even at higher price sticker than regular prius.
      Hmm, starting to get disappointed with Toyota...
      • 5 Years Ago
      12 miles! And it doesn't stop there. Did they mention that if you press the accelerator to hard or go faster than 35 MPH the engine kicks on anyway? The so called Plug-in Prius will never hold a candle to the Volt. Because the Volt will accelerate to 60 MPH and go 40 miles before the ICE starts. Toyota is just screwing around to waste time hoping that the Volt falls flat on its face so they can "we told you so, ours is better."

      Toyota already made a very good alternative fueled vehicle called the RAV4-EV. Unfortunately Toyota didn't manage the program correctly and is now convinced that the RAV4-EV will never be useful. Therefore they will not make any more because it's "not profitable". One of these cars went for 2 times the original sticker price on e-bay recently.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Uh Randy, what makes you think that a Toyota produced PHEV will behave the same as your typical PHEV-conversion?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Toyota plug-in Prius prototype has a different gearing ratio and more powerful electric motors, enabling "EV only" speeds up to 60 mph, different than the after-market plug-in upgrades.

        The EV range is less, but the weight and cost of the batteries is also less. That trade-off will appeal to many who don't have a long commute.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Randy, you got your numbers wrong..

        The Volt will run on electric up to 100mph, at max acceleration.. but it will sustain the acceleration for only so long.

        The 2010 Prius will go up to 62mph on just electrics (this is an update from previous models), but only with moderate acceleration.. if you want full acceleration then the ice turns on.


        • 5 Years Ago
        A complete Li-Ion PHEV conversion kit is available right now under $2000 on ebay. You don't need to wait for Prius 2012 or Volt 201X

        http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200344551230
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh sorry I forgot how cheap Hydrogen is.

      p.s is that you gorr?
      • 5 Years Ago
      As much as this news is disappointing since I expected PHEV Prius to be right around the corner, we should rather try to identify reasons for such moves (getting rid of our electric car enthusiasm bias) with no conspiracy theories along the way.

      According to Prius and other hybrids as high mileage taxis experience, the original battery pack can last for 500.000 km/340.000 miles. But this is achieved by it being massively oversized for the purpose. Ordinary hybrids use only a small fraction of its battery capacity to perform energy recovery/engine electric assist cycle. And as long as possible, the computer keeps battery state of charge (SOC) amplitudes between 40 and 60% of original capacity.

      In a plug-in car, the battery would have to be truly HUGE to remain within this 40-60% SOC for all the all-electric range. Apparently, this is impossible. The alternative: allowing the battery in an electric vehicle/PHEV to become significantly depleted during each cycle dramatically reduces its lifetime. Notebooks with rather modern Li-Ion batteries are perfect examples how quickly capacity can shrink over time.

      Some news about Tesla roadster (from manufacturer website) claimed the battery needs to be replaced every 4 years.

      And when you read about RAV4-EV on Wikipedia, sentences like those are striking:

      " Some RAV4 EV's have achieved over 150,000 miles (240,000 km) on the original battery pack."

      " a tested 0-60 time of around 18 seconds"

      "Third party battery vendors charged approximately US$26,000 as of June 2007 on eBay for replacement packs."

      So probably only SOME of RAV4-EV lasted this long. Enthusiast will cherry pick those ones but likely the majority of these electric cars failed to provide long mileage service. And no one will buy a very pricey and slow vehicle and with significant costs to overcome in the future. Even if money saved on electric instead of gasoline refueling will equal this, people won't cross such high entry point.

      Apparently, PHEVs face more challenges that we think they do. I'm really curious how GM will perform with the Volt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Memo to Toyota:

      I am not buying any more toyota's unless they come with a plug. Don't believe me, watch.

      Fred
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why can't they give us the choice? Hell they could even ring higher profits. While some people may have limited budgets, others might be willing to expend a tad more for better EV range.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Plugin hybrids are a joke. We need to move on to Hydrogen. See how many people like their Volt when they see their utility bill sky rocket from charging it at night. http://blog.whitesites.com/Chevy-Volt-Charging-Math-doesn-t-add-up__633585085743050177_blog.htm
        • 5 Years Ago
        What a load of crap. Hydrogen costs way more than electricity, If you can even find a filling station that sells it.

        It costs less than $4 to charge a tesla with enough juice to go 200 miles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The math in your article didn't add up. The Volt gets that 40 mile range using only half the battery capacity, 8 Kwh, as it doesn't fully charge or fully discharge the battery to maximize battery lifespan. Combined charger and battery efficiency is 85%, that means a charge would use about 9.2 Kwh - lets round up to 10 Kwh. My local utility rates are 11 cents per Kwh, so that's $1.10 for 40 miles, or $0.0275 per mile. Your rate at 16 cents per mile would be $1.60 or $0.04 per mile, higher than GM mentioned, but your rates are above average. Still, that's well below the per mile cost of driving on gasoline.

        Hydrogen is quite a bit more expensive, with a retail rate around $8 to $10 per Kg from the cheapest source, steam reformed natural gas. The FCX Clarity can get about 70 miles per Kg of H2, which works out to $0.1142 to $0.1428 per mile, about 3x to 7x more than driving electric. Using H2 to fuel an internal combustion engine is even worse, going about as far on a Kg of of H2 as it does on a gallon of gas.

        Then there is the high cost of H2 storage, high pressure carbon fiber tanks cost more than LiIon batteries - and H2FC cars still need LiIon batteries to run the car until the fuel cell can get started, provide extra power, and store regenerative braking energy. A modest sized automotive H2 fuel cell costs about $400,000.

        There is a market for $35,000 cars that can run on cheap electricity, but I really don't see a rational market for half million dollar cars with modest performance running on expensive and hard to find fuel!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am shocked to hear that the Toyota "plan" is to not sell the plug in Prius to the general public. After years of talking up the virtues of Toyota as a company with "the long view" so lacking in GM and Ford, I can only say I agree with the above comments that Toyota is now sounding very much like GM, back when it thought it ruled the world.
      I have a 2001 Prius which I had planned to replace in 2004, but the bad design of the interior of the 2nd generation prius left me and any other tall person, out of the bounds of their short ergonomics. The shift was right where my knee cap rested.
      So I was glad to see the new 3rd generation design, but like most Americans, I had resolved to once-and-for-all seperate myself from gasoline.
      But if Toyota "General" is too short sighted to serve the market, I'll take the first competent EREV that comes along, just as when Ford and GM killed the Prodigy and the Precept, I took the first competent Hybrid that came along - the Prius.
      • 5 Years Ago
      For those with a current prius and don't want to wait until 2012 for your plugin you can convert it using a third party called Hymotion it costs around 10K to have it done but let me tell you it is absolutely worth it. My prius heads up doesn't have 3 digits for mpg so it stays at 99.9 most of the time during my small commute.

      http://www.a123systems.com/hymotion
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