If everything goes according to what The Nikkei [sub] has heard on the grapevine sake circuit, Toyota will deliver a plug-in Prius hybrid by 2014. A plug-in with an interesting twist …
Before we get to the twist: The only thing that is new about a revelation of a plug-in Prius is that it would come 2 years later than originally intimated. When Toyota revealed its green roadmap in November 2010, they talked about a plug-in hybrid Prius by 2012, and a pure plug-in iQ in the same year. A 2012 plug-in hybrid Prius can be seen at Toyota’s website, and can even be pre-ordered “later this year.”
What the sometimes not very car-savvy Nikkei may have picked up is that when the Prius switches to its 4th generation some time in the 2014 timeframe, the plug could come standard for all Prii. This would place the Prius head-to-head against the Volt, except in price. The Nikkei heard that the plug-in hybrid Prii “will start at around 2.05 million yen, ($25,000) in line with current prices.”
Says The Nikkei: “The future plug-ins will feature high-performance lithium ion batteries. Current models can travel a maximum 38km per liter. The fourth-generation offerings will be able to cover more than 60km, including electricity-only mileage.” Mathematically, 30 km/liter convert to 70 mpg. 60 km/liter convert to 140 mpg. The usual disclaimers apply.
Asked about the electric plans, Toyota spokesman Dion Corbett said that he “can’t comment on future models” – what else should he say.
The Nikkei heard that “Toyota envisions the batteries also being used as emergency household power sources.” This meme has been around for years. The March 11 earthquake and tsunami could bring it closer to reality.
At the April 22 press conference in Tokyo, where Akio Toyoda laid out the plans of how Toyota will get back to a normal production schedule by the end of the year, Toyoda said that he had been “very moved” when he heard that people in the stricken areas had used the batteries of their Estima hybrid minivan as a power source for cell phones and laptops when the regular power was out.
It would be no great engineering feat to build a bidirectional charger that allows the car battery to provide back-up power to the house, and that turns a hybrid into a genset. With a solar array on the roof of the house, the most expensive part of a solar system, the battery and the back-up generator, would already sit in the garage.