Toyota Will Sell Prius Plug-in Hybrid in 2011

In two years, consumers will have at least three plug-in car choices from major automakers.

After years of taking a wait-and-see approach to plug-in hybrids, Toyota yesterday officially announced its plans to produce and market a plug-in version of the Prius in significant quantities. According to Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada, the company will sell “several tens of thousands” of plug-ins a year globally beginning in 2011.

Plug-in Prius

The announcement comes as other global automakers, most notably General Motors and Nissan, intensify marketing efforts to promote their plug-in cars, which go on sale in late 2010. By the time the Toyota Prius Plugin Hybrid becomes widely available, consumers will have at least three choices from major global automakers for cars that primarily drive on batteries charged at home or work. The top three reasonably priced plug-in cars will represent a range of costs and electric driving range.

The most expensive is likely to be the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid offering up to 40 miles of all-electric range before an on-board engine sustains the batteries charge for an additional 300 miles. The Volt is likely to sell for about $40,000.

The pure electric Nissan Leaf will offer 100 miles of driving range, so 100 percent of its driving will be electric. As an electric car, rather than a plug-in hybrid, the Leaf will not have an engine, and therefore will be limited in range to about 100 miles before needing to be recharged. It’s expected to sell for about $32,000.

The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will likely be the least expensive, perhaps in the high-$20,000s, but will offer the least all-electric range, approximately 14.5 miles at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. (Previously, Toyota said the Prius Plug-in would have an all-electric range of 12 miles.) Short commutes could be zero emissions, but the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will rely on its gas engine more than the other vehicles—although it will be fully recharged more quickly.

All three of the vehicles will be eligible for tax credits, as high as $7,500. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which will use a 5.2 kWh lithium ion battery pack—compared to the Leaf’s 24 kWh pack and the Volt’s 16 kWh—will not qualify for as high a tax credit as the other vehicles.

Electric cars from Ford, Mitsubishi and others will also be in the running.

Prius Plug-in Hybrid plug />

Prius Plug-in Hybrid plug

In the race for electric and plug-in hybrid cars, Toyota will be able to leverage its commanding lead in conventional hybrids. In September, the company announced that cumulative global sales of the Prius topped 2 million units—far more than all other hybrid cars combined. Yet, GM, Nissan, Ford and others recently have taken aggressive steps to take a leadership role in the next generation of alternative vehicles, the plug-in hybrid and electric car. Toyota’s announcement about the Prius Plug-in Hybrid indicates that the company will not easily relinquish its market advantage—and perhaps more importantly, its image—as the leader in green cars.


  • Jeremiah

    So, will Toyota make good and retrofit 2010 models to go “electric?”

  • aaronz

    i heard that the new battery pack will cost $5000 and the old one cost $2500. Since this new one will get the $7500 tax credit this plug in hybrid could be cheaper then the regular prius hybrid. wouldn’t that be amazing.

  • Crut100

    Don’t worry, if you can actually afford the car, the government will have phased you out of the tax credit.

  • Jeremiah

    aaronz,

    Are you saying that an upgrade qualifies for $7500 in rebates

  • Anonymous

    great news, let the hybrid to ev evolution begin!

    Even better that there are competitions to make toyota move ahead.

  • DC

    Toyota certainly is on the bleeding edge of battery propulsion. A decade of R+D, and no doubt billions of dollars or yen and they have managed to break the ellusive …..10 mile barrier. No doubt there were naysayers that predicted going over 10 miles all electric was a pipe dream and it would be height of folly to even attempt it. Just think, with-in a few decades (maybe) what you might be able to buy from toyota, 20, 30 miles?. Of course with ranges like that, you will probably only be allowed to lease one of 1000 or so that can actually find a dealer get one at…

  • Pathak Rajanikant

    It’s good begining of ev car’s .Let’s start to save the earth from polussion actually.

  • Dom

    While this is all fine, I’d rather have my $7500 back for house payments… or maybe pay off my current car. Why should I have to help somebody ELSE buy a $35000+ electric car??? If someone wants one of these cars, let them cough up the dough for it.

  • Mr. Fusion

    LOL, DC you kill me!

  • Jeremiah

    Hey Pathak

    How about an environmental surtax be placed on pollution machines instead, and funnelled into clean technology solutions.

    If you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Dom,
    I guess I should complain about how much of my tax money goes to protect your oil interests to fuel your guzzler then. Since I drive an EV, I don’t really care whether we have any oil.
    I’d rather have that war-effort money so I could better afford a car that doesn’t need oil.
    *** disclaimer to avoid being written off as a peace-nik: I’m a conservative US veteran (slightly on the Hawkish side) and believe in fighting hard when it is necessary. I prefer a quiet, sneak attack to a frontal assault but I prefer to avoid fighting altogether whenever possible.

  • StonerCapitalist

    Even with a 14-mile all-electric range, the plug-in hybrid Prius is the only one of these three which is an option for us — and for millions of others, I bet, as we’ll see when it’s released in larger numbers in North America in 2012.

    The Volt will likely be out of our family’s price range, even with the tax credit. GM still won’t be pinned down on a price, and $40k is the low end of the predictions we’ve heard. And the Volt’s fuel economy as a hybrid (after the all-electric range is used up) seems unimpressive, to say the least.

    We keep hearing 300 miles as the range after the all-electric capacity is depleted, but that begs the question, “How big is the gas tank?” If the tank holds even 8 gallons, the fuel economy after the all-electric range will be about 37 mpg.

    The Nissan Leaf is off the table, because we don’t want to be at the mercy of a very sparse public electric recharging infrastructure. In fact, we don’t think it’s prudent to rely on any one power source — whether electricity or liquid fuel. Safest to buy a vehicle that can run on either energy source if the other is unavailable or becomes too expensive.

    The plug-in Prius is the only one of the three which meets all our criteria.

    Think about the fuel economy of the plug-in Prius after its all-electric range is depleted. Our 2009 Prius already achieves 42-45 mpg in very cold weather, 46-49 mpg local in warmer weather, and consistently 50-52 mpg highway in warmer weather. The 2010 Prius is rated 51/48 mpg, and our friends who own one report slightly better than that with careful driving.

    No surprise, then, if the 2012 plug-in Prius offers at least a 55 mpg rating after the all-electric range.

    Let’s see, about $30 k minus a federal income-tax credit of at least several thousand dollars, and we get 14 miles all-electric. That’s longer than either of our daily round-trip commutes.

    For longer trips, we’ll get the first 14 miles without using any gas, then 55+ mpg for the rest of the trip till we recharge. We’ll take it.

    For our purposes, the plug-in Prius becomes even more attractive when Toyota starts assembling it in the USA. They’ve already built a new plant in Mississippi for the assembly of the “regular” Prius, and are projected to start operations there in late 2010. (Of course, we live in Michigan and are delighted that the Volt is being built here, so our dream is to buy BOTH a Volt and a plug-in Prius when we can afford it….)

  • ex-EV1 driver

    StonerCaptitalist,
    I appreciate your fiscally responsible attitude, however, I’d like to suggest that you look into the economics of a strong PHEV such as the Volt and the money you’d probably save through its lower ‘fuel’ costs and lower maintenance costs. Add that to a longer ownership period and you might be able to go above the ~$30K of the Prius and closer to the $50K price of the Volt.
    If you live in Michigan, I agree that the Leaf is less attractive except as a 2nd car, at least until we see how fast charging infrastructure rollout goes. I suspect that Michigan is likely to be the last state to roll out EV charging infrastructure so your only reliable charging spot early on will be at home.

  • Jim Hybrid owner

    I remember when this plug-in idea started, it was set to get 100 mpg, what happened to that? Why not have it recharge while driving like my 2004 Prius. I get 48 to 50 mpg depending how I drive around town and on the hwy. I don’t see why the plug-ins will be a better buy if they only get 37 mpg after the battery is depleted, I drive over 12 miles a day.

  • david

    Hi Jim – the good thing is we will have 3 options pretty much right from the start – if you want very clean and efficient – go with the nissan all electric leaf – if you have a very short commute and love the Prius then this makes sense – and for anyone with a longer commute which studies indicate will work for most of the population, the Chevy Volt will give you 40 miles on a charge – so you can either commute 20 miles to work and back or 40 miles each way and charge while working.
    Yes the Volt’s economy running on gasoline might be less than glamorous, but, if you do most of your driving on that battery, you are getting huge efficiency of energy use, zero tailpipe emmisions, and a fraction of the cost (GM figures about $1.50 for 40 miles if I recall). .. so to get that same cost/ energy benefit, you would need to get over 100mpg to match it and also would have a lot more pollution.
    Also, let’s remember – This is the START of a new paradigm. Hybrids are already saving soooo much fuel from being burned – this could be a huge game changer – I commute 16 miles each way a day – with a Volt I’d probably fill my tank less than a half dozen times a year!
    let’s hope this is a start of something great :)

  • Bill

    Has anyone looked into how much pollution is generated by producing one of these “green” cars? The pollution they generate on a daily bases is only a small part of the actual life cycle. High density batteries take a lot of energy to produce and also have a lot of toxic byproducts. I personally think the high efficiency diesel cars are much better for the environment. This isn’t scientific, but may start people down the correct path. Article is about how a hummer is more environmentally friendly than a prius.

    http://www.impactlab.com/2007/03/14/prius-outdoes-hummer-in-environmental-damage/

    Bill

  • Bill

    Looked into this more and determined that my data was wrong. Here is a link to a different article that disproves the dust to dust study.
    http://www.pacinst.org/topics/integrity_of_science/case_studies/hummer_vs_prius.pdf

    Bill

  • Bryan

    Go figure the oil industry is making up research to keep idiots addicted to oil. Saying a tiny Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer is so absurd it smells of foul play.

    Of course it is standard hackary pseudo-science from a fraudulent outfit — front of the oil industry.

    I could care less what the oil industry says. We need plugins to reduce oil consumption which has tremendous environmental impacts. Exhibit A = the Gulf of Mexico.

    Please mass produce these PHEV.

  • NIGHTRIDER

    I am the owner of a 2010 Toyota PriusII, as well as 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid, so i’m in a position to offer an informed opinion.
    Basically I’m a hypermiler, and keep tire pressure around 50psi in each car(every time I take either car for service I have to emphatically request not to lower the pressure).

    During the months of June,July and August I am averaging 55MPG on the Civic and 58MPG on the Prius. Each car gets a rougly equal. mix of city/highway driving. My chief complaint with the HCH is that the IMA, or autostop. feature is slow to activate during cold weather. It may take 5-10 minutes and half of that time might be spent idling at a traffic light wasting gas. The Prius usually requires less than 5 minutes for EV at stop during cold weather.

    I’m very interested in the Prius plug-in, but my major concern is how much gas it willl use during the 14 minute period or whether it will run 100% EV, especially in cold weather.

    The Prius hybrid system usually activates in less than 5 minutes when cold

  • B

    so how long until they do the plug in hybrid for a real car, preferably a diesel plug in hybrid in a camery or matrix. the prius is simply the ugliest car I’ve ever seen and simply won’t buy one.

  • b

    I love how morons like you spew out stuff you have no clue about. Your fully stuck on the idea running the thing is the only aspect of pollution involved. The manufacturing, use and recycling of the batteries is what puts the pollution factor over that of a hummer, but I won’t hold your short sighted ignorance against you, there are too many stuck in group think to ever fall out of that pattern. Orwell would be proud. Factor the FACT 70% of our electricity is still produced by coal and your well above that of a hummer. Then those highly toxic batteries are only going to last 5 years BEST case senerio. So your looking at the equivalent of a major engine overhaul in cost every 5 years replacing very toxic batteries.