Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

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The new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is joining the Prius range and it is expected to emit just 49 g/km CO 2 and achieve 134.5 mpg fuel consumption.

It’s also likely to be capable of an electric-only driving range of about 14.3 miles, with the battery being fully rechargeable in 1.5 hours.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid is Toyota’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that will go on sale to the mass market, and it has made its production vehicle world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.

Recent Accenture research, entitled Plug-in electric vehicles: changing perceptions, hedging bets on the electrification of private transport , suggests that consumers may favour PHEVs over full EVs because they require fewer changes to current driving habits and levels of convenience.

The next major milestone in Toyota’s ongoing, 40 year quest for sustainable mobility and the ultimate eco car, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid represents the latest development of the company’s modular Hybrid Synergy Drive platform – full hybrid technology with a proven track record over more than 200 billion kilometres of driving worldwide.

Offering a considerable expansion of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system’s capabilities, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid incorporates a lithium-ion battery to offer an EV driving range of approximately 14.3 miles (target figure). Beyond the electric driving range, it can be used as a conventional full hybrid with all the efficiency of a standard Prius, and fully recharged from a domestic source when convenient, in just an hour-and-a-half.

With a total HSD system power output of 134 bhp, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 10.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 112 mph. Its EV cruising range enables it to achieve fuel efficiency of 134.5 mpg and achieve a CO 2 figure of 49g/km (target figures) – both of the above are based on the NEDC cycle, ie. over a relatively short distance, meaning that plug-in hybrids gain impressive CO 2 and mpg figures that are not necessarily representative of long-term driving.

Weighing approximately 1,420 kg, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is only 50 kg heavier than the regular Prius, and no heavier than any comparable diesel or petrol car in its segment.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid addresses the specific needs of drivers commuting to urban areas, and so will appeal to very similar customers to those who were early adopters of the first generation Prius.

Sales will start in early 2012, mainly in Japan, the USA and Europe, with anticipated annual sales of approximately 50,000 units.

It is estimated that the majority of Europeans will live in urban areas by the end of the decade. As a result, the demand for environmentally-efficient commuter vehicles is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. Based on current conditions, industry attention is now focused on electricity as the most practical energy source.

Many EU member states are struggling to achieve the required EU air quality standards, specifically in towns and cities. This has resulted in local government authorities introducing criteria to restrict the entry of specific types of vehicles to city centres. Following a direction recently proposed in the EU Transport White Paper, some cities are going further and considering a ban on conventional vehicles from city centres and the promotion of electric vehicles.

The environmental merits of electric vehicles (EVs) as urban commuters are well proven, but their further development is currently handicapped by a number of factors. On the technical side, inappropriately large, heavy and costly batteries are required to offer a driving range which only satisfies the needs of those with a very specific usage pattern. Perhaps more significantly, from the customer perspective, no adequate recharging infrastructure yet exists, and range anxiety – the driver’s concern about how far a vehicle will travel on the level of battery charge available – remains a major issue. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid addresses each of these issues.

Building on the core technology of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid sets a new benchmark in environmentally-efficient mobility by giving customers commuting to urban areas the best of both worlds.

It offers an extended EV driving range, yet it can be driven without any concerns over exceeding this range. At this point, it can be driven as a regular, full hybrid vehicle offering the same environmental credentials and true long-range capability as a standard Prius.

A full hybrid capable of operating in petrol and electric modes alone, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid returns excellent fuel efficiency and the lowest possible CO 2 , NO
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and PM (Particulate Matter) emissions.

The reduction of CO 2 emissions has been a mainstream global issue since the 1990s, and vehicle taxation based on CO 2 emissions is now commonplace. However, the focus on curbing CO 2 emissions has meant that legislation to limit the pollution of the urban environment through road traffic-generated NO
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and PM emissions remains, thus far, significantly less stringent.

Although Euro 6 exhaust emission regulations will bring the diesel engine NO
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emission limits closer to those of petrol units (80 versus 60 mg/km on the NEDC), the Prius Plug-in still generates significantly lower NO
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emissions than diesel cars and undercuts the Euro 6 standards by 98 per cent. When operating in its extended EV mode, it generates zero CO 2 , NO
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and particulate emissions.

Toyota initiated its Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) project in 2007, with road trials of a prototype vehicle in France and the UK in 2008. In 2010, the project entered its second phase when a limited production vehicle, based on the third-generation Prius equipped with a lithium-ion battery, was used for pan-European road trials.

As part of a global Toyota project, 200 vehicles have been leased to selected partners and customers in 18 European countries. France, the UK and Germany are operating150 PHEVs between them, and the largest single group of vehicles is located in Strasbourg, France, where a 70 PHEV-strong project is underway in collaboration with Toyota’s partner, French energy provider EDF, and the City and Urban Community of Strasbourg (CUS).

After nearly a year, the PHEVs involved in the project have been intensively driven both in the urban environment and on longer journeys out of the city. With an average yearly mileage of 8,190 miles for each vehicle, project participants have acquired nearly 497,100 miles of PHEV driving experience.

As two thirds of commutes cover a distance of less than 12.5 miles, the PHEV’s zero-emissions, fully electric range satisfies a significant share of the users’ daily requirements. More than a third of users also completed long distance trips of more than 62 miles at least once a week; the PHEV’s ability to operate as a full hybrid eliminates the range anxiety associated with making journeys of this length in a fully electric vehicle.

Fuel efficiency figures obtained under real-world conditions show that the PHEV consumes 36 per cent less fuel than the comparable, best-in-class diesel vehicle and almost 50 per cent less than the best-in-class petrol vehicle. Users that maximised the potential of the PHEV and made optimal use of the existing recharging infrastructure were able to return average fuel consumption figures of more than 141 mpg.

The wealth of real-world user feedback generated by the global limited lease projects has enabled Toyota to re-evaluate every aspect of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid’s performance. As a result, the production vehicle benefits not only from several key technological improvements over its lease project counterpart, but also considerable improvements to its everyday practicality and usability.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid features a new lithium-ion battery with a high capacity of 4.4kWh and a weight of only 80kg. This compares favourably to the nickel-metal hydride battery of the latest generation Prius, which has a capacity of 1.3kWh and weighs 42kg.

Using a battery charger inlet now relocated beneath a panel in the production vehicle’s right-hand rear wing, the battery pack can be fully recharged in 1.5 hours from a standard, 230V household outlet, with no need for an expensive fast-charger.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers the driver three switchable, ‘on-demand’ drive modes: HV, EV and EV-City.

With HV mode selected, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid functions like a standard Prius.  It delivers the Toyota HSD driving experience, seamlessly engaging the petrol engine as appropriate. The vehicle’s switchable EV mode range is preserved for use in urban environments.

With EV mode selected, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is able to draw upon the full capacity of the battery and will remain in electric drive mode, allowing for urban driving with minimal noise and zero CO 2 and NO
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emissions, for up to approximately 14.5 miles at speeds of up to 53 mph.

The petrol engine will still start if the system judges that additional power is necessary, however the use of light to medium throttle inputs keeps it switched off throughout EV mode operation.

With EV-City mode selected, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid matches the EV mode’s characteristics. Increased electric operation is ensured by allowing more forceful use of the throttle before the petrol engine kicks in.

Switched separately, ECO mode may be independently activated when the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is operating in HV, EV or EV-City modes. In any drive mode, throttle response to accelerator pedal inputs is reduced and air-conditioning control adjusted for improved fuel economy. Depending on driving conditions, ECO mode can help drivers achieve a perceptible reduction in fuel consumption.

Several subtle exterior detail changes differentiate the Prius Plug-in Hybrid from the standard Prius.

The front of the car features an exclusive grille and front bumper design. To the rear, a clear lens combination lamp design further differentiates the new vehicle from the standard Prius. A high-brightness silver finish has been adopted for the door handles, licence plate trim and battery charger lid, and the vehicle features Plug-in Hybrid badging on the front wings and tailgate.

Following lease customer feedback, the battery charger inlet has been relocated from the left front wing to a discreet, flush-mounted panel in the right-hand rear wing. Every aspect of the charging operation itself has also been reconsidered.

The Charge Circuit Interface Device (CCID) has been made more compact, and a 25 per cent lighter, more flexible charging cable that does not stiffen in cold weather has been developed. The battery charger lid has been incorporated into the cover for easier, single-operation closing, and it now features a battery charger indicator and LED illumination for better night-time visibility. As an additional safety measure, Prius Plug-in Hybrid cannot be started when the charging cable is connected.

The installation of the new, more compact lithium-ion battery has allowed for a loadspace deck that is on a par with the standard Prius, and a luggage capacity of 443 litres. Under-boot storage of 40.5 litres means there is ample space to store the charging cable beneath the loadspace floor.

Toyota is working on the Smart Grid concept – an electricity network where power supply and demand are efficiently controlled using IT to ensure a stable power supply and optimum energy saving.

The Smart Grid is designed to help customers live a comfortable, low-carbon eco-life by connecting vehicles, homes and people. At the heart of the Smart Grid is Toyota Home’s Smart House, currently on test in Japan.

The Smart House is equipped with a Home Energy Management System (HEMS), which controls the generation of electricity by solar panels, its storage in a home battery and its efficient consumption, including vehicle charging times. The PHEV or EV is integral to the system, and the vehicle battery may be used as a household power source in emergencies.

Smart House occupants’ smart phones are also integrated into the system, monitoring home power consumption and facilitating the remote control of appliances to support an eco-lifestyle. In addition, the smart phone will also check PHEV or EV battery level, set battery charging time and control the vehicle’s remote air conditioning to help support eco-driving.

The Smart Houses in each district are connected to a Toyota Smart Centre; a local information centre which monitors power company and home electricity generation, and each home’s power usage. The Smart Centre plans power consumption and storage, and gives advice where necessary to help level power demands and ensure that electricity is efficiently used throughout the entire community.

To establish the Smart Grid, advanced IT technologies and large-scale information infrastructures are necessary, while cooperation among various industries and government agencies is essential. To that end, Toyota is already participating in tests to evaluate the next generation of eco-cars and introduce the Smart Grid on a global scale.

Meanwhile, the conventional Prius features further improvements to its exterior and interior design, and a new range of advanced and affordable multimedia systems.

The world’s first mass-produced full hybrid vehicle, Prius was launched in Japan in 1997, and in Europe in 2000 and global sales have now passed 2.3 million units.

Voted Car of the Year by European, Japanese and American motoring journalists, it has won numerous prestigious awards, and its Hybrid Synergy Drive is one of the most successful powertrains in the history of the International Engine of the Year awards, with 11 honours to date.

The Prius has been consistently ahead of its time in addressing not only CO 2 emissions, but also air quality. Even operating in normal drive mode, it generates significantly lower NO
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emissions than any comparable diesel or petrol vehicle. In EV mode, with a range of up to 1.4 miles, it generates zero CO 2 , NO
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and PM tailpipe emissions.

Internal Toyota studies performed with the third-generation Prius show that during a typical city trip, when the average speed is below 19mph, more than 25 per cent of the journey takes place with the engine off, resulting in considerable reductions in average fuel consumption and emissions.

The last decade has witnessed a fall in the fuel consumption of its Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain of more than 23 per cent and a reduction in CO 2 emissions of almost 26 per cent. Yet system power has simultaneously increased by 30 per cent. The latest Prius returns 72.4mpg in the combined cycle, and generates CO 2 emissions of 89 g/km.

Customer perceptions of full hybrid technology have also evolved significantly over the last decade. First-generation Prius owners were won over by the car’s unique concept and technological innovation. Second-generation owners were enthusiastic early adopters of niche technologies, remaining passionate about the Prius product concept regardless of the opinions of others.

Third-generation customers, however, recognise Prius as a true mainstream vehicle with on-road performance and dynamic abilities which bear comparison with conventional D-segment competitors.

The new Prius features a new, more dynamic frontal treatment. The revised front bumper design places the emphasis on an enlarged lower grille, in keeping with the new face of the next generation Toyota family. A new, clear lens headlamp design features a revised LED lamp configuration, and daytime running lights have been incorporated in the bumper.

The door mirrors now have a power-folding function, the rear combination lamps have been redesigned and there is a new 15-inch wheel design.

On board, the quality of the appearance and feel of the interior have been raised through a change of colour scheme from dark grey to black, the addition of silver inserts and an upholstery upgrade.

The centre console has been revised, and the push start button colour changed to hybrid blue. The multi-information display has been improved with a 16-gradation-step Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD) which gives a clearer and more three-dimensional display, and driving support functions now include an EV indicator lamp.

The new Prius benefits from the addition of a range of advanced and affordable multimedia equipment choices being introduced to every vehicle in the new Prius family; Toyota Touch, Toyota Touch and Go Plus, the new Toyota Touch Pro, and a new JBL Matrix Premium Sound System with GreenEdge energy-saving technology.