Introducing… The $40,000 Plug-In Prius

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
introducing the 40 000 plug in prius

It’s here: after much talk, hype, third-party conversions, hand-wringing, and other drama, Toyota has finally announced the plug-in Prius. It starts at $32,000 plus destination… but the one you really want will cost you a cool forty G. Click the jump for availability, specs, and some personal hand-wringing.

Full details can be found at the new and very comprehensive Prius Plug-In site. Here’s the money shot, though:

The Prius Plug-in features an extended EV mode that can let you drive up to 15 miles on a single charge, up to 62 mph, as well as a quick three-hour charge time from a standard 120V AC household outlet. If you run out of electric charge, the vehicle seamlessly shifts into hybrid mode, still giving you great mpg.

That “great mpg” should decrease a little bit in the real world compared to the standard Prius, since the Plug-In carries about 176 pounds of batteries. Toyota’s made the fairly interesting decision to equip the base $32,000 Plug-In with a reasonably comprehensive list of standard equipment including:

  • 6.1 inch nav screen
  • LED tails and DRLs
  • heated front seats
  • power folding mirrors

The greenies may have wanted a plug-in penalty box, but Toyota isn’t bothering to provide one. In 2012, plug-in hybrid tech will still be a luxury feature, not a way to save money on fuel. To emphasize the point, there’s an “Advanced” model at just over $40K including destination that offers:

  • LED headlights
  • JBL sound system
  • Dynamic Cruise Control
  • auto-dim mirrors

You get the idea: this may drive like a crippled econobox from 1988, but it won’t be equipped or priced like one.

For 2012, availability will be limited to the usual suspect states in the Northeast and West Coast. Flyover-state hicks such as yours truly will be forced to drive out to a stocking dealer. Toyota explicitly suggests that we do so in their FAQ, assuming we can stop screwing our sisters and manually masturbating farm animals for profit long enough to make the trip.

I think the Advanced Package car might be a good fit for my life companion, Vodka McBigbra; she rarely covers more than 15 miles at a time and she does not value outright over-the-road pace in an automobile. At forty grand, however, one wonders if there isn’t a competitor which offers more value. Perhaps a longer battery-only range? A more iPod-like interior? A chance to get up close and personal with my friendly local Chevrolet dealer? Hmm…

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  • GarbageMotorsCo. GarbageMotorsCo. on Sep 21, 2011

    Quick ,get your Volt before they're gone! Only 2050 of them left for the reasonable starting price of just $38,995! Buy one now and Government Motors will throw in one of their very own "Forever Lazy"s as a token of their appreciation. Act now! Dealers can't get them fast enough, they are SOLD before they even arrive!!! (not counting the ones listed of course)

    • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Sep 23, 2011

      Only 2174 remaining now. Better act fast!

  • Johnhayd Johnhayd on Sep 24, 2011

    see the article from green car reports: In the SF bay area, people will be happy to pay the extra $ to be able to drive solo for free in the carpool lane. By John Voelcker Reports say Toyota expects to sell as many as 15,000 of its 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid model per year in the United States. But electric-car fans and advocates have vigorously debated whether the plug-in Prius is a “real” electric car, whether its 9 to 14 miles of electric range is adequate, and how much of an increase in gas mileage it delivers over the standard 50-mpg 2012 Prius hybrid. None of that matters. Toyota is likely to sell every single 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrid it can deliver to California dealers for one simple reason. It’s about the stickers, stupid. Put more politely, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid is expected to qualify for the highly prized Clean Air Vehicle sticker in California that gives its driver access to High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes on certain crowded freeways in and around San Francisco and Los Angeles even when traveling solo. That privilege—formerly extended to 75,000 owners of three specific hybrids, but now ended for those cars—turned out to add as much as $1,500 in value to the value of those hybrids in the used-car market against the same cars without the stickers. So it’s logical to expect that the 2012 Prius Plug-In, with a base price starting at $32,760 including destination, will enjoy the same popularity. Traffic congestion remains grim in the state’s two largest urban agglomerations, and time is money. Right now, the only new cars that qualify for the white Clean Air sticker are the electric Nissan Leaf (with a range limited to 100 miles or so), the Tesla Roadster (starting at $109,000), and the tiny numbers of natural-gas Honda Civics and hydrogen fuel-cell Honda FCX Clarity models. So for drivers who are leery of the all-electric Leaf’s limited range, but want solo driving in less-crowded HOV lanes, the Prius Plug-In is the easy, obvious, best-known solution. And we predict there will be waiting lists for the car for many months as word gets out. The one fly in the ointment? That would be plans by local transportation authorities to convert HOV lanes to tolled “Lexus lanes,” in which drivers pay a variable fee for solo access to those same lanes. Under those plans, electric-car drivers would pay the same tolls as any other solo driver—and they’re not happy about it. But for every other HOV lane in the crowded parts of California, expect to see lots and lots of Priuses starting next spring. They’ll look just like regular 2012 Priuses, except for a second round door (for the charge port) on the right rear fender—and that invaluable green white carpool lane sticker on the bumper. The 2012 Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car does not qualify for California Advanced Technology-Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) status, which would allow its drivers to get the same sticker—even though it runs electrically for up to 40 miles before the range-extending engine kicks in, unlike the Prius. Although Chevy has said in the past it plans to qualify the Volt for the sticker, GM representatives refused to say when that would happen—or whether they would charge extra for AT-PZEV status in Volts destined for California and the other states that have adopted its emissions standards. So who cares about plugging in? It’s all about the sticker—even if Prius Plug-In drivers never once plug in their car. Does that make sense to reduce emissions, which is the stated goal of the HOV access scheme? Oh, that’s another story altogether.

  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉