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by Tim Beissmann

The production version of the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid has been unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

 

The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid promises to be one of the most fuel efficient petrol-powered vehicles on the road when it launches in Japan, Europe and the US from early next year.

Toyota says the Prius Plug-In Hybrid will sip fuel at a rate of just 2.1 litres/100km on the combined cycle while emitting just 49g/km CO2.

The vehicle’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system will produce a maximum of 100kW, good for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 10.7 seconds and a top speed of 180km/h.

At the heart of the powertrain is a 4.4kWh lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged from a standard 230V power point (not a fast-charger) in just 90 minutes. Toyota says the Prius Plug-In Hybrid will have an all-electric range of 23km and a full hybrid range of around 760km, which is about on par with most petrol-powered small cars.

It also compares favourably with its obvious rival, the Chevrolet (and as of next year Holden) Volt, which uses around 3.9 litres/100km hybrid/electric combined, takes three hours to charge from a similar power source, and has a total range of 610km.

The Plug-In Hybrid can be driven in three different modes: HV, EV and EV-City. In HV, the car operates like a normal Prius, drawing on the petrol engine and the electric motor for power. In EV mode, the Plug-In will remain in electric mode for up to 23km and at speeds of up to 85km/h. The petrol engine will kick in if the system determines more power is required. In EV-City, the throttle can be used more forcefully in electric-only mode before the engine kicks in.

On top of all three drive modes, ECO mode can be selected to reduce throttle input and temper the air conditioner for added fuel efficiency gains.

Despite its larger battery, the Prius Plug-In weighs just 50kg more than the standard Prius (1420kg vs 1370kg). It has 443 litres of boot space and an additional 40.5 litres in an under-boot stowage bin.

Toyota initially expects to sell around 50,000 units per year around the world, and will reveal pricing details closer to its launch.

The official word from Toyota Australia is that the Prius Plug-In Hybrid is “still under investigation for the Australian market”, although we expect it to go on sale locally sometime during 2013.

Before it arrives, Toyota Australia will introduce the compact Prius c city car in the first quarter of 2012, the 2012 Prius hatch facelift around March/April, and a larger Prius MPV in the second quarter.

A Toyota Australia spokeswoman told CarAdvice the local brand was still unsure whether we would get the five-seat Prius v or the seven-seat Prius +, but admitted the people mover variant was its preference at this stage.

Do you think the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid would be suited to Australia’s driving conditions? Let us know in the comments section below.




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