Toyota has sold more than one million Prius models in the United States since the first-generation model was introduced for model-year 2001. The recent introduction of the larger Prius v and now the Prius Plug-in Hybrid brings this eco-focused model range to four distinct vehicles, including the Prius c, which will debut in 2012.
The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will allow true EV operation and performance for up to 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mph, along with quick home charging using a standard AC outlet and 15-amp dedicated circuit. Operating in EV mode, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid provides the quick, smooth quiet driving of a pure electric vehicle. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers the same five-passenger seating and luggage space as the standard Prius model.
The 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid retains the Hybrid Synergy Drive of the standard Prius model and will seamlessly 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 2.5 to 3.0 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.
Performance and Economy
Even when not running in the driver-selectable EV mode, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will rely more on its electric-only capability in situations where it is more efficient than running the gasoline engine, especially in urban and suburban driving and during shorter trips when drivers will enjoy the smoothness and quiet of EV operation. The overall fuel economy rating for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid increases to a manufacturer-expected 87 MPGe, with the car achieving an estimated 49 MPG when operating in hybrid mode. Drivers who use the vehicle for frequent short trips and local driving will realize the biggest reduction in gasoline usage.
Toyota developed the new compact, lightweight, high-output battery specifically for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. The 4.4 kWh battery pack includes a battery charger located under battery that features an internal cooling fan. The hybrid system’s inverter and has been optimized for the new, higher-capacity battery. In addition, the hybrid cooling system uses a larger heat exchanger and higher-capacity fan motor.
As in the standard Prius Hybrid model, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid shuts down the gasoline engine at a stop and accelerates away with the hybrid battery providing electricity to the front motor; the Prius Plug-in Hybrid can rely on battery power alone for longer distances and higher speeds than the standard Prius. It features a new battery state-of-charge gauge, and a standard multi-information display panel monitors fuel and energy consumption to help encourage economical driving habits.
New multi-information display additions have been included in the Prius Plug-in. A new EV Drive Ratio display records the ratio of driving distance covered by EV power, and the Hybrid System Indicator shows possible EV driving range when in EV mode. An Eco Savings Record screen, new to both the 2012 updated Prius and the Prius Plug-in, allows drivers to measure their savings over a customizable pre-set comparison vehicle. The pre-set areas include fuel cost for a gallon of gas and miles-per-gallon average.
In the event of a malfunction, the CCID (Charging Circuit Interrupter Device) in the cable will stop the flow of electricity for safety, and the indicator lamp will flash. There is also a self-test button, similar to that used on household kitchen and bathroom electrical outlets. A special rubber stopper prevents the charging port door from snapping shut when closing.
Leviton Level 2 (240V) Home Charging Stations
Significantly, the biggest change in packaging from the Prius Plug-in Hybrid test-fleet model is the smaller, more efficient battery pack in the production model. The new battery pack is approximately one-half the weight of the demonstration-phase vehicle, yet provides about 15-percent more range.
The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in has a weight of 3,165 lbs. versus 3,042 lbs. for the Prius Liftback and 3,373 lbs. for the Plug-in test-fleet model. Suspension tuning has been altered in accordance with the change in weight distribution from the standard Prius model.
The Prius Plug-in reduced vehicle weight in other areas as well. In place of a spare tire, the Prius Plug-in carries a tire-sealing kit and inflator. The trunk floor panel features a reinforced honeycomb design and is about half the weight of the standard model’s floor panel, while the charging cable stores in a compartment at the rear edge of the trunk floor.
As on the standard Prius model, weight was saved through use of aluminum in the hood, rear hatch, front stabilizer bar and brake calipers and by using super high-tensile strength steel in the inner rocker panel, center pillar and roof reinforcement.
All Prius models are built using processes that reduce emissions in every stage of the vehicle lifecycle, from production and driving, through eventual disposal and dismantling years down the road. Toyota uses plant-derived, carbon-neutral plastics in Prius models. Known as “ecological plastic,” the material is used in the seat cushion foam, cowl side trim, inner and outer scuff plates, and deck trim cover. Ecological plastic emits less CO2 during the production process than conventional plastic, and it also helps reduce petroleum use.
The new Prius Plug-in will be offered in two trim levels, standard and Advanced. 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.
Hybrid Synergy Drive is built around a specially adapted, efficient 98-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that runs on the Atkinson cycle and contributes to a maximum 134 total system horsepower. Key components include an electric water pump that requires no belts, and an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system that helps warm the engine quickly, reducing fuel consumption when the engine is cold.
The compact and lightweight gasoline engine produces low noise and vibration. Sophisticated valve control, injector design, and other technologies help reduce emissions to allow the Prius Plug-in to qualify for an enhanced ATPZEV emissions rating. A new low-pressure fuel-vapor containment tank system releases pressure in the tank for the engine to consume the generated vapor.
Peace of Mind Warranty Protection