Toyota capitalized on the pre-Tokyo Motor Show buzz and presented its plug-in hybrid Prius PHV to the press. The car is not quite ready for launch, it will be launched in Japan on January 30, 2012. However, dealers accept orders as of today. The venue of the press conference was carefully chosen: The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
In carefully chosen words, Toyota managers pooh-poohed the pure plug-in. They pushed the usual buttons, namely range anxiety or time to charge. They subtly dissed the pure plug-in by saying that green vehicles are only good for the environment if they are widely used.
The EV cruising range is not far: 26.4 km, or 16.4 miles. After that, the Prius PHV will switch seamlessly into hybrid mode, using the familiar 1.8 liter series hybrid technology. Why such a short EV range? It is a careful balancing act of weight, space, and price. A big battery adds heft and hefty cost. The Prius PHV is only 50 kg (110 lbs) heavier than the regular Prius. Its lithium-ion battery is small enough to not take away trunk space. Trunk is the same size as that of the Prius. 16 miles is enough to get to the store and back or to roll out of town without polluting the air.
A lot more has been said today. A lot of it is already known to TTAC readers via our interviews with Chief Engineer Satoshi Ogiso. Because there was so much, we make the whole press conference available to you via video as if you’ve been there yourself.
Toyota plans to sell 60,000 Prius PHV a year around the world. 35,000 to 40,000 are scheduled for Japan, the rest for the rest of the world. The car should arrive in the U.S. in Spring at a starting price of $32,000. People in Europe will have to shell out €37,000.
Leave it to Reuters to say why GM should be worried:
“General Motors Co is also looking to win over environmentally conscious consumers with its Volt plug-in hybrid, although its price tag of $41,000 is considered prohibitive.
The Volt also hit a snag recently, with U.S. regulators deciding last week to investigate the safety of the car after its battery pack caught fire in crash tests.
The Volt uses “range extender” technology to generate electricity on-board with the gasoline engine and carries 180 kg (400 lbs) of batteries.”