Toyota has been showing off its plug-in hybrid Prius since it debuted in concept form at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Japanese automaker is getting ready to deliver the 2012 production version, and we just found out that it will have some significant changes over the prototype versions we've seen so far.
The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle boasts two unique features; a selectable EV driving mode, and the ability to apply recaptured energy to the electric-only driving range.
The selectable EV driving mode will be quite useful for trips requiring the use of a highway or that cover longer distances than simple in-town errand running. This will allow Prius PHEV drivers to conserve energy for electric-only jaunts. A button will allow you to turn the EV mode on or off.
Any run-of-the-mill Prius hybrid uses regeneration to replenish the battery. In the protoptye PHEVs, no more energy can be recaptured and stored for later use than the regular non-plug-in model. That means there was no way to extend EV-only range without plugging back in. On the production version of the Prius PHEV, the car will be able to take advantage of that regenerated energy, and extend the time the car can spend in EV mode.