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Toyota Prius, 2012: Plug-in hybrid debuts, 87 MPGe

Toyota has introduced the Prius Plug-in hybrid, joining the third-generation Prius Liftback and the new Prius v and Prius c models, the latter of which is set to debut in 2012.

The Prius Plug-in combines the benefits of the standard Prius model’s hybrid vehicle operation with extended electric vehicle (EV) driving. Marketed as seating five, the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid is expected to achieve a manufacturer-estimated 87 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) in combined driving and 49 MPG in hybrid mode.

The recent introduction of the larger Prius v and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid gives Toyota four eco-focused vehicles, including the Prius c, which will debut in 2012.

The 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybridwill allow EV operation and performance for up to 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mph and with home charging using a standard AC outlet and 15-amp dedicated circuit. It also retains the Hybrid Synergy Drive of the standard Prius model and will switch into hybrid operation at a pre-determined state of battery charge.

A newly developed 4.4 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack replaces the standard Prius model’s nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery and fits under the rear cargo floor, and the vehicle adds an easy-to-use external charging cable.

A full charge using an external AC outlet takes approximately takes 2 1/2-3 hours using a 120v household outlet or 1.5 hours using a 240v outlet. The included 120v charging cable connects to the charging port inlet located on the right-rear fender.

In addition to offering Entune™, Toyota’s new multimedia system, available smartphone applications developed for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid include Charge Management, Remote Air Conditioning System, Charging Station Map, Vehicle Finder and Eco Dashboard.

Introduction of the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid follows an extensive test-fleet program involving 125 early prototypes in the United States. Toyota applied experience from that test phase, along with input from participants, to finalize engineering and improve features for the production model.

The Prius Plug-in operates much the same way as the standard Prius model while offering extended EV range and plug-in charging. Current Prius owners will feel instantly familiar with the new model while enjoying more benefits of EV driving.

The Plug-in Hybrid system consists of a large-capacity Li-ion battery and an external battery-charging port connected to the standard Prius Hybrid Synergy Drive system.

The external charging system is approximately 24 feet in length, the battery charger cable weighs 3 3/4 pounds and fits its own compartment in the trunk area.

The Prius Plug-in will be offered in standard and advanced trims. The standard trim level provides all of the features of the Prius Two Liftback grade, plus some features from the upscale Prius Three and Prius Four grades. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid also makes standard a new touch-screen Display Audio and navigation system with rear backup camera and Toyota’s new Entune™ multimedia services.

The Prius Plug-in comes standard with unique wheels, LED Daytime Running Lights, new driver-feedback screens, heated front seats, Smart Key System on three doors with push-button start and remote illuminated entry, and the Touch Tracer Display. The latter features touch sensors on the steering wheel switches that are designed to reduce driver eye movement for better concentration on the road. When the driver touches the audio or info switch located on the steering wheel, a duplicate image is displayed on the instrument panel, directly in front of the driver.

The Advanced trim level adds Head-Up Display, LED headlamps, SofTex interior seat trim, eight-way adjustable power driver seat, a JBL® premium audio and HDD navigation system and exclusive Entune Plug-in Hybrid Applications for smartphones. Additional safety features in the Advanced level include the Pre-Collision System with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Safety Connect system. The latter can access a call center with a live operator who can dispatch police and emergency vehicles. The system combines automatic collision notification and a stolen vehicle locator feature, which can track the location of the stolen vehicle via GPS and help guide police to recover it.

Toyota’s 36-month/36,000 mile basic new-vehicle warranty applies to all components other than normal wear and maintenance items. Additional 60-month warranties cover the powertrain for 60,000 miles and against corrosion with no mileage limitation. The hybrid-related components, including the HV battery, battery control module, hybrid control module and inverter with converter, and the battery-charging system and cable/connector, are covered for eight years/100,000 miles (10 years/150,000 miles for CARB states).

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid will also come standard with Toyota Care, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance and 24-hour roadside assistance for three years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The base MSRP for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is $32,000. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced will have an MSRP of $39,525. Both Prius Plug-in models are expected to qualify for a federal tax credit of approximately $2,500.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid will be on sale in 14 launch states beginning in October (2011) through Toyota’s Online Order System at www.toyota.com. Vehicle deliveries begin in Spring 2012. The launch states include California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. A national rollout is planned for 2013.

Source: Text/Images, Toyota Motor Co.

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