• May 9th 2011 at 11:46AM
  • 38
2010 Plug-in Prius Prototype – Click above for high-res image gallery

Back in September of 2010, Toyota's head of product development, Takeshi Uchiyamada, announced that come 2012, the Japanese automaker will try to take hold of the plug-in hybrid segment by offering the least-expensive, most-fuel efficient PHEVs in the world. Uchiyamada was speaking of none other than the automaker's plug-in Prius and admitted that Toyota's aim is to price it, "so close to the current version that customers really have to hesitate and think about it."

Well, the Japanese Nikkei (sub. req.) newspaper now reports that by 2014, all Prius hybrid models will come standard with plug-in capabilities and boast the ability to travel up 37 miles per liter of fuel (including electric-only mileage). From what we've been told, the all-electric range is around 12-14 miles, so this would translate to around 103 miles on that first gallon. Furthermore, the Nikkei claims that Toyota will price these plug-in hybrids in line with current Prius models. The Japanese automaker will supposedly focus on reducing the costs of batteries and other hybrid components so that it can offer the plug-in Prius at a price point that's identical to its non-plug-in counterpart. Yes, please. Hat tip to David!

*UPDATE: Not true, says Toyota.



Photos by Sebastian Blanco / Copyright ©2010 AOL

[Source: Nikkei – sub. req. via Green Car Congress]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 38 Comments
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 4 Years Ago
      nooo, surely this is not possible. it has to cost 41000$. batteries cost 1500$/kWh. maybe more.. GM is taking a huge loss on the Volt. GM is sacrificing themselves for the good of the EV. right? : ) I told you the Volt and the Leaf are massively overpriced. and of course they are. even though the battery range of the plugin Prius is semi pathetic, it should induce some panic in various board rooms. 20km battery range is just enough to make a lot of people addicted to battery driving. next time they want more. this is good. GM: "this is bad" : ) should GM ever actually start producing the Volt, they can probably lower the price quite a bit from the ridiculous 41 and still be plenty profitable. they should probably price it around 24 to be fair. below 30 would be a start but reducing it even that much would be too much of an admission of greed and obtuseness so they probably wont. they might go to 35 and pretend it's a sacrifice worthy of Jesus Christ. I hold GM in the highest regard : )
      Peter
      • 4 Years Ago
      Check your math. When you subtract the electric range its 23 miles (37Km) on one liter of gas. It is looking like a claim of about 2.7 l/100km on petrol... (which is excellent but really the same as currently considering it is the Japanese test cycle that this claim is made against, which the current version makes 38 Km on one liter in the 10-15 test cycle or 32Km on the JC08) Its only 103 mpg when you use the Japanese cycle to test, include the electric miles in the numerator, and ignore the energy cost to drive them in the denominator. Don't expect this number on the EPA sticker.
        paulwesterberg
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Peter
        Even in real world driving I bet it gets 60mpg in range extended mode which puts it at 72-74miles on the first gallon+charge, close to the volts 73-78miles at a fraction of the cost. 12-14 miles would fully cover my wife's daily commute while still providing excellent highway mileage for longer trips.
          harlanx6
          • 4 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          It's easy to make a good case for this car. For over a decade the Prius has been the leader in usable, reliable efficiency. Governmental subsidies aside, I don't think you can beat it for a car with total versatility, projected reliability, and efficiency. The fact that they are willing to sell it at a reasonable price tips the balance in Toyota's favor. Now let's see what the competition can offer to keep pace. An equivalent EV for $40K can't compete.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am currently converting our ``new`` Gen 2 2008 Prius over to plugin with Plugin Supply`s 10 kWh pack and electronics. It seems like a good deal. Around $30,000 for everything, and since Prius`s usually far outlast a regular ICE then you could argue our Prius is kind of new. I am interested to see how it accelerates at speed because I always try so hard at the light to accelerate slowly without the gas engine turning on but it always does around 20 km per hr, it drives me nuts. But the electric motor seems to give good torque starting from stopped so I think it should have good oomph at speed too. I imagine the limiting factor in allowing the Prius to go from 0 to 40 on electric power is the batteries, not the motor. If this is the case then there really isn`t anything holding Toyota back from doing this upgrade to future models since if an aftermarket 50 mile plugin conversion kit costs $8500 surely Toyota can do something similar from scratch for only $5000.
        axiomatik
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't know how you can claim that "Prius`s usually far outlast a regular ICE" when the Prius has only been out for 10 years. Any car built since 2000 should be able to easily last 10 years.
      Rotation
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's a fantastic deal. I'll believe it when I see it though. If they really are going to offer PHEV operation with the same cost as non-PHEV, that means they are using the same battery size as a non-PHEV and it means it'll have no real useful zero-gas range. It'll be great for inner city deliveries though.
        GoodCheer
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        "that means they are using the same battery size as a non-PHEV" Either that or that battery costs are falling and/or that production of TSD systems are becoming more efficient as volumes ramp up, or that they're not making as much money on them, or ....
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        I believe this is meant to coincide with the switch to lithium in the Prius, so basically, the current non-PHEV is getting a big tech upgrade as it is. Basically, Toyota is betting that their new lithium batteries are going to be a cost wash in replacing the old nickel units. Fourteen miles of all-electric range is very, very usable in a car that costs the same as the current Prius.
          Rotation
          • 4 Years Ago
          If the battery pack is the same size as the current one, then it won't be fourteen miles of all-electric range. It'll be up to 14 miles of somewhat electric operation, not including normal acceleration or highway speeds (Toyota says the PHEV tops out at 62mph in electric mode). If the pack is not bigger, it'll be a PHEV, but not one with any real all-electric range. And if the pack is bigger, they'll charge more for it, count on it.
          • 4 Years Ago
          That will really depend on the price curve on the batteries. They may be betting that that larger capacity battery will be as cheap as the current pack, or somewhere thereabouts, in 2014.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They may be including the battery tax credit in their calculation of net price for the Plug-In Prius. If so, the gross price could be about $3000 more than a standard Prius and an instant rebate (likely, in future) brings the net to price parity. Tax credit for a 4 kWh pack is $2500 and a 16 kWh pack (Chevy Volt) is $7500 - it's linear at intermediate energy levels. It's an amazing opportunity for Toyota (low hanging fruit) but they only get to use it for ~200k units total (total of ~$600M value to Toyota). That will fly by pretty quickly.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is definitely how you make the "plug" go, relatively, mainstream. Late to do it, but good job Toyota, if they follow through on it. This is also how Toyota saves the Prius "brand" from becoming relatively irrelevant (Toyota execs have probably been watching in horror as a majority of the Volt and Leaf trade-ins have been Prius's) as the plug-ins become available and the thing to get if you want off gasoline (to an extent).
      Ziv
      • 4 Years Ago
      Interesting, though it is early days on the plug in. What will they be using, around 4.5 kWh to get 12 to 14 mile AER? So the battery pack will have a total of what, 6 or 7 kWh's? Even with a pack management system it probably won't cost them more than $3000 by then, maybe less. I still like the Volt concept, and appearance, better, but Toyota isn't going away. This makes me wonder if GM will be able to reduce the Volt price at a rapid enough clip to keep growing the sales to the point where building 45,000 Volts a year won't be overkill. Toyota has a strong position by leveraging their incredible efficiency of the Prius and adding a smaller, cheaper battery, albeit with a limited AER. Time will tell, but with gas prices looking to stay above $3.50 this summer, all these fuel sippers are getting the best possible environment to really grow their market share.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 4 Years Ago
      No way.... Hm, it's not april 1st though..
        Chris M
        • 4 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        We'll see what they can do in 3 years. Maybe they have developed some tricks to reduce costs.
      Marcopolo
      • 4 Years Ago
      Toyota is preparing the Pris PIEV, to be marketed as a range extended EV competitor to the GM Volt. The Leaf is in a market all of it's own, (along with the odd little iMEV). Toyota is watching Gem's plans to produce a luxury Buick version of the Volt, and needs an updated drive train to equip the Lexus CT 200h version as a REEV to compete with GM, in the most profitable market segment. Ford is cautiously exploring the market with Focus and the Mercury Hybrid, while waiting for it's own battery (zinc-air) R&D to develop. How the market reacts to REEV's is very important as the appeal of low range EV's is very limited when trying to make a profit in a mass/volume market. Prius has the advantage of a loyal 2 million plus owner base, and a solid reputation for quality and reliability. These buyers have already proved their willingness to pay a premium for the Prius. Naturally, a percentage of those buyers were influenced by the green image, and on philosophic grounds would buy a Leaf. Toyota's market research show this percentage as being very small and targets GM as the main competitor. The concept that GM or Nissan can further reduce the price of either product in the near future, is a vain hope by people who don't understand the car industry. Honda Hybrids were always cheaper than Prius, but Prius out sells Honda 10 to 1.
      say what
      • 4 Years Ago
      Suck it Volt!
      krona2k
      • 4 Years Ago
      Very good, if they get charging points at work it would be perfect. Hopefully Hyundai will bring out something competitive so there will be a number of affordable plugin hybrids on the market soon.
      • 4 Years Ago
      As someone on Grist put it this morning, this is how the gas world ends. Not with a bang, but with a widget.
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