Thursday, December 17, 2009

Toyota Plans a Plug-in Hybrid Prius

Here come the plug-ins:

Toyota, the world's biggest seller of gasoline-electric hybrid cars, intends to begin retail sales of a plug-in version of its Prius hybrid by 2011 as environmental concerns increase demand for fuel-efficient vehicles.

Toyota's plug-in vehicle, which can be recharged using household electrical outlets, initially runs solely on electricity generated by a lithium-ion battery. After about 14 miles of driving, a gasoline engine kicks in to run with the battery on a hybrid system. The overall fuel economy is about 134 miles per gallon, Uchiyamada said.

The pricing on the plug-in vehicle will be "affordable," Uchiyamada said. In the United States, kits to convert the Prius hybrid into a plug-in sell for about $10,000, and the price difference should be less than the conversion cost, he said.

I'm getting in line -- can't wait to own one!

Note to Toyota (and other carmakers): being that we do a lot of skiing and camping, and have kids, we'd also love it if you offered a 4WD plug-in (e.g., RAV4).  Preferably, it will be one one that is switchable from 2wd to 4wd, since we only need the 4wd on occasion.  Keeping it in 2wd most of the time will get us better mileage than your current all-wheel-drive Highlander Hybrid (why don't you offer it as switchable, like your 4wd vehicles have always been?) 

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