Toyota Motor Company has just unveiled the 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid, the newest in their line of innovative hybrid vehicles. Since its debut in 2001, Toyota has sold more than one million cars making the Prius the best selling hybrid vehicle in America and the world.
Introduced at the 2011 Green Drive Expo the Prius Plug-in is said to combine hybrid vehicle operation with extended electric vehicle driving but the prices are lower than pure electric vehicles.
The new model provides seating for five passengers with no reduction on cargo or rear-seat passenger space. Toyota reduced the weight of the vehicle by adding aluminum to the exterior, so even with the built-in battery-charging system the vehicle is only 123 lbs. heavier than the standard Prius Liftback.
Great standard features include driver-feedback screens, heated front seats, Smart Key System and the touch-screen Display Audio. Also standard are Toyota’s Entune™ multimedia service and a rear backup camera. An Eco Savings Record screen let drivers compare their usage with a different vehicle.
Toyota anticipates the vehicle to achieve 87 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) in combined driving, and 49 MPGe in hybrid mode. A standard AC outlet is used to charge the vehicle. A full charge of the built-in 4.4 kWh lithium ion battery pack takes about 2.5 to 3 hours with a 120v outlet, or 1.5 hours with a 240v outlet.
The Prius provides quality EV performance for 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mpg. Then, at a pre-selected battery charge level, moves into hybrid operation under full acceleration. The engine power is divided between the generator and the drive wheels, so the battery stays charged.
The new plug-in uses battery power for longer distances and at higher speeds than the standard Prius, a display panel monitors fuel consumption and keeps track of the remaining battery charge. During times when the Prius Plug-in Hybrid isn’t running in EV mode, the vehicle uses its electric-only capability when it’s more efficient.
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