Prius Plug-In tweaked following Euro trials

  • 27-Sep-2011 05:00 EDT

The Prius Plug-In Hybrid has been modified ahead of its global launch following European trials.

Toyota gave the Prius Plug-In Hybrid its world production debut at Frankfurt alongside the European debut of the Prius + seven seater. The Prius + signals the first use of a lithium-ion battery in Toyota’s standard parallel hybrid drive system. By packaging the battery pack in the center console between the front seats, the trunk space occupied by the battery pack in the standard Prius has been opened up and the longer model can accommodate two further seats.

Lithium-ion battery technology is also adopted for the Prius Plug-In Hybrid. Unlike the Chevrolet Volt/Opel Ampera, which have a serial hybrid system, the plug-in Prius uses a variant of the Toyota parallel hybrid system. Compared with the standard Prius, the plug-in version has a 4.4-kW·h lithium-ion battery pack having a 80-kg (176-lb) mass. The standard Prius is equipped with a 1.3-kW·h nickel/metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack with a mass of 42 kg (93 lb).

With the greater battery capacity, Toyota has set a target driving range in electric mode of 14.3 mi (23.0 km), and the battery can be recharged in 1.5 h from a regular European 230-V domestic electricity outlet. Using the capabilities of the hybrid system, Toyota has set a target fuel consumption of 134.5 mpg with carbon dioxide emissions of 49 g/km.

A limited production run of plug-in hybrid Prius has been used as part of a pan European trial since 2010, with 200 vehicles leased to selected clients in 18 European countries, resulting in around 497,000 mi (800,000 km) of data. In the trial, users who used the plug-in capability returned a claimed average fuel consumption bettering 141 mpg. As a result of the trial, the charging point on the car has been moved from the left to the right side of the vehicle.

The plug-in Prius can operate in three modes: HV, EV and EV-City. In HV mode, the plug-in model operates as a regular Prius with the two drive systems working in parallel. This mode does not use the full capacity of the battery. In EV mode, the system operates with full battery capacity to give an electric range of up to 14.5 mi (23.3 km) at speeds up to 53 mph (85 km). The gasoline engine will still start if the drive system calculates that additional power is required. This mode allows for light to medium throttle use without activating the gasoline engine. Greater use of the throttle can be made in EV-City mode before the gasoline engine is activated.

The plug-in Prius is distinguished from the regular Prius by dedicated front and rear treatments. A bright silver colored finish is used for the door handles, license plate panel, and battery charger lid.

Other modifications made following the European trial include a more compact charge circuit interface device and a charging cable that is more flexible and weighs 25% less than previously. The battery charger lid now includes a battery charge indicator and LED illumination for nighttime use, while the lid has been incorporated into the cover so that it can be operated single-handedly. The car cannot be started when the charger cable is connected.

Interior changes include a revised trim color scheme, redesigned center console, and revised information display to show clearer EV driving mode information.

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