It is a unique development process that Toyota carried out with the new plug-in hybrid Prius. Customers in France and England were already on the road with prototypes in 2007, and in 2010 the test was extended to all of Europe. Readers of a uto motor und sport also took part - and contributed their experiences. 200 prototypes covered a total of almost 800,000 kilometers. This experience flowed into the series plug-in hybrid, which is due to come onto the market in Germany in summer 2012.
What distinguishes it from a conventional hybrid model? In the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, the battery can be charged from the socket. If the normal Prius only covers two kilometers in purely electric mode, the plug-in hybrid covers 23 kilometers electrically. According to the official ECE consumption formula, the new Prius consumes just 2.1 liters per 100 kilometers, which corresponds to CO2 emissions of 49 grams per kilometer.
Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid with a smaller battery
With a combustion engine and electric drive, the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid has a maximum total output of 100 kW. This should be sufficient for an acceleration of 10.2 seconds from standstill to 100 km /h. At 180 km /h it is electronically limited. A full battery charge and 45 liters of petrol are sufficient for a theoretical range of 1,422 kilometers. In normal driving, at least 1,000 kilometers should be possible - far more than most drivers need. The large-scale tests have shown that the daily driving distances are usually less than 20 kilometers - i.e. within the electric range.
The battery was also adapted to this driving profile. It is significantly smaller than the prototypes, weighs just 85 kilograms instead of 160 - which also helped the overall weight of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. It now weighs only 50 kilograms more than a normal Prius. The battery type is new. Toyota has been installing nickel-metal-hydride batteries in the Prius since 1990, only lithium-ion batteries are used. And they don't come from the joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic, but from Sanyo. The 56 cells that make themselves small in the trunk provide 4.4 kWh. So small that not only the normal volume of the Prius luggage compartment of 443 liters is retained.
Also the charging cable of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybridfits in the recess under the luggage compartment cover. It was modified after the tests, has become 25 percent lighter and remains supple and flexible even in the cold. There are also suitable plugs for the different sockets in Europe. The connections are no longer at the front of the fender, but rather discreetly at the rear right under a flap. There is an LED light so that the cable can also find its way into the socket at night. In addition, the charge level of the battery is visually displayed.
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid does not start when cables are connected
Some weaknesses have been eliminated: For example, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Do not start the hybrid anymore if the charging cable is connected. When starting the plug-in Prius remains silent, you start electrically and you can choose between three driving programs: HV, EV and EVCity. In HV (Hybrid Vehicle) mode, the plug-in version works like a conventional Prius. The petrol engine is switched on as required, with the combustion engine reporting to duty in a very discreet and unobtrusive manner. The stored battery charge is saved for later use when driving purely on electricity, for example in the city. In EV (Electric Vehicle) mode, the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid drives only electrically. Prerequisite: the driver strokes the gas pedal and does not press it too hard. In EV City mode, the combustion engine is switched on earlier when the accelerator pedal is depressed, so that the proportion of the purely electric driving distance increases by saving the battery. In all three programs, the driver can also switch on the eco mode. Then the response of the accelerator pedal is dampened and the air conditioning is regulated to optimize consumption.
Toyota has also optimized the chassis - and that was not just a finding from customer trials. The suspension responds better now. These changes will also be introduced in the regular Prius. Prius means: 'The one who precedes'. Toyota has now sold 2.3 million Prius. With the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, the pioneer is taking the next step, even if it will initially be an exclusive one. Toyota plans to build 60,000 plug-in Prius per year.
In October 2012, the plug-in hybrid will be launched on the German market at a price of 36,200 euros. If you order the Tec Edition for 42,500 euros, you also get a radar-based protection system against rear-end collisions, automatic distance control, a navigation system and a parking assistant.