By on May 9, 2011

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.


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15 Comments on “Future Prius Could Power Your House – In A Pinch...”

  • avatar

    An interesting idea in a pinch, but I think I would just prefer an actual generator (unless the Prius was somehow more efficient).

    • 0 avatar

      but I think I would just prefer an actual generator

      Unless you power goes out several times a year, would’t a dedicated generator just amount to another thing to maintain?

      • 0 avatar

        Fair point, but a small generator is a good deal less expensive than a Prius. If I was actually looking to buy a Prius, then this might be a good alternative use for it, but I don’t see myself buying a Prius just to have a back-up generator in my garage, at least not at this point in time.

      • 0 avatar

        My power has only gone out for a long duration just a few times, but once was for ten days and once for four or five. No power equals no heat, no lights, no water, can’t flush the toilets, etc. I got the smallest size generator that would take the in-surge from a deep well pump – 7.5kVa. If the alternative were decently designed, the money spent on the generator (about $1700 plus a trickle charger plus annual oil and filter changes plus Stabil and still drain the gas from time to time plus run it anyway every few months) would certainly put a dent in cost premium of a hybrid car. You would still need a cross-over panel. Probably need a mongo-sized cable from the d-panel to the garage and a receptacle there too and another cable to get to the car outside the garage (for us attached garage folks). What else would be needed?
        And you probably could get a lot more power out than 7.5kVa…. The wife could use her hair dryer…..

  • avatar

    How about a CNG Prius that I can run from my home’s filling station?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Toyota envisions the batteries also being used as emergency household power sources.”

    What a great idea. A storm knocks out your power, so the house drains your car’s battery. Then the police tell you a flood is coming so you need to evacuate. You get into your electric car and … sorry, the battery is drained.

    I wonder if electric cars float?

    • 0 avatar

      Wouldn’t the engine just kick on every once and a while to charge the battery?

      • 0 avatar

        That’s exactly what it does. I hook up a few inverters to my Prius, and it runs maybe 5 minutes every four hours or so to keep the battery charged. Was very handy last week when the power was out for 3 days when the tornadoes ripped through here in E. TN.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Schwartz

        Until you run out of gas.

      • 0 avatar

        LOL. In 3 days, I doubt I used more than half a gallon or so to have some backup power there. If I lived in an area where power outages were more frequent, a regular generator with more capacity than my kilowatt of inverters might make more sense, but then I’d need to keep the thing maintained etc.

  • avatar

    While recharging electronics (like cell phones and laptops) seems viable, powering the house from the Prius would be a stretch. Lighting and appliances would quickly deplete the battery, and running the car engine to provide power thru the home charging unit would present its own set of problems like ventilation and cooling for the engine.

    • 0 avatar


      Keep in mind that a typical hard wired propane fueled standby home genrator is 8000w or 10hp. A Prius with a 77,000(98bhp) engine chraging its batteries might only need to run for a few min a few times an hour to power your home.

  • avatar

    I live in a seismic area of the US where power could be out for a while and have a plain old inverter to hook up to any of our cars to run a few small items like the fridge and some lights and a sump pump. Less expensive than a generator, the size of a toaster, one less motor to maintain, portable, quiet, and you can use the car battery for low loads at night without having a noisy machine running outdoors. It’s the best choice for most people. We have a second small inverter that creates the clean power needed for computers and phones.

  • avatar


    The way I understand it, is that (as you mentioned) you will get a standard plug-in for 2014, but you will still have the option to buy one in 2012.

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