Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle FAQ Sheet - Toyota Prius Forum : Toyota Prius Forums
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Exclamation Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle FAQ Sheet

Toyota has recently posted Frequently asked questions on their Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHV), covering many things we want to know. If your planning to buy the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, you will find this thread to be very useful.


What is the EV driving range for the PHVs?
The lithium-ion battery powered PHV has approximately 13 miles of EV only driving range. Range will vary based on a variety of conditions and driving styles.

What is the EV driving maximum speed for the PHV?
The PHV demonstration program vehicles can achieve highway speeds (up to approximately 60 mph) on electric only power.

Why is the Prius PHV range so short?
Toyota is of the belief that the smaller the battery in a PHV the better, both from a total lifecycle assessment (carbon footprint) point of view, as well as a cost point of view. Research has shown that plug-in hybrid vehicles with smaller batteries, charged frequently (every 20 miles or less) with average U.S. electricity produce less green house gas emissions than conventional hybrid vehicles (according to a 2009 Carnegie Melon University study). And as battery size increases, so does the battery cost resulting in higher overall vehicle cost.

What is the MPG and fuel economy of the Prius PHV?
The federal government has not yet set a standard for determining MPG on plug-in hybrid vehicles. The Prius PHV has a range of approximately 13 miles of electric only. That 13 miles can vary greatly depending on vehicle speed and driving conditions. Extreme hot (110 degrees F) or cold (20 degrees F) ambient temperatures can also negatively affect lithium-ion battery performance.
If a person regularly takes trips of less than 13 miles and charge often, there is a possibility that the vehicle will have no MPG because it will use no gas. When the vehicle is operating in regular hybrid mode, it has an EPA estimated 50 MPG combined city/highway rating.

How will plugging in the Prius PHV at home affect the electric bill?
Since electricity rates vary greatly depending on location and utility company, Toyota cannot determine an exact cost. The PHV draws approximately one kilowatt per hour and takes approximately three hours to charge. The effect on the bill also will be determined by how often the vehicle is charged

What is charging a PHV equivalent to when it comes to electricity usage?

Central Air Conditioner
Power Usage (Watts): 3500
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 50 minutes

Appliance: Window A/C
Power Usage (Watts): 900
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 3.3 hours

Appliance: Electric Clothes Dryer
Power Usage (Watts): 4 400
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 40 minutes

Appliance: Plasma TV
Power Usage (Watts): 400
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 7.5 hours

Appliance: Dishwasher
Power Usage (Watts): 1 200
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 2.5 hours

Appliance: Pool Pump
Power Usage (Watts): 1 600
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 2 hours

Appliance: Washing Machine
Power Usage (Watts): 500
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 6 hours

Appliance: Old Refrigerator
Power Usage (Watts): 850 (when running)
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): less than one day

Appliance: Certified Energy Star Refrigerator
Power Usage (Watts): 525 (when running)
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 2 days

Appliance: Five 75 watt Incandescent Bulbs
Power Usage (Watts): 375
Length of time equivalent to charging Prius PHV (3 kWh): 8 hours

When will the public be able to purchase PHVs?
The Prius PHV will come to market in 2012. The PHV demonstration program is designed to gather real world driving data and customer feedback on plug-in hybrid technology. In addition, the program will confirm the overall performance of the first-generation lithium-ion battery technology in a variety of use cases. Toyota must ensure that the vehicle/battery meets customer’s expectations before it is brought to market. The results of this program will make sure that the vehicle coming to market in 2012 will exceed customers’ expectations and meet plug-in customers’ demands.

Does Toyota expect the EV range to increase when the vehicle comes to market?
Toyota continues to improve battery efficiency and performance, but at the same time Toyota must ensure that the product has the right size battery at the right price for customers when it comes to market.

In the future, what does Toyota envision as the ideal EV driving range?
Toyota needs to examine the real-world applications. Greater EV range requires bigger batteries, which increases cost, recharging time and possibly the overall carbon footprint of the vehicle. Also, the vehicle requires additional space within the vehicle to house a bigger battery. Toyota needs to determine what customers expect from the vehicles and whether the cost-benefit equation is market competitive.

There is a perception that Toyota is not as far along with its PHV program as some of the recent start-up companies in the U.S. that are doing PHV conversions (with Prius) with Lithium-ion batteries. Why is Toyota so far behind?
Toyota’s PHV program is moving forward at a pace that must address myriad issues that are not necessary for these conversion companies. Toyota has a huge obligation to its customers’ expectations. It is more important to be best-in-market than it is to be first-to-market. Historically, Toyota has underpromised & overdelivered. Toyota expects to be highly competitive in all areas of advanced technology vehicles.

Why is Toyota so conservative in its approach to PHVs?
Toyota believes that PHVs can be part of a solution to climate change and for energy security,
  • for certain customers,
  • in certain geographic areas,
  • with certain grid-mixes,
  • with certain drive-cycles,
  • and with access to charging.
There will be an important role for PHVs, but it will not be in high volume until there are significant improvements in overall battery performance…and battery cost reduction.

Why is Toyota using lithium-ion batteries in the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle, but not in the 2010 or 2011 Prius?
Lithium-ion batteries have greater energy density than nickel-metal hydride batteries, i.e. more energy can be stored with battery size intact. In order to increase the distances driven under electrical power, Toyota is using lithium-ion batteries in the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle.
In conventional hybrid vehicles Toyota will continue to use nickel-metal hydride batteries in the near term. The technology has proved its value over twelve years of mass production and is extremely reliable. In the future, given cost reductions, lithium-ion batteries could be considered for conventional hybrids.
  • Ni-MH batteries are appropriate for regular hybrids (cost, quality, reliability).
  • Lithium-Ion batteries: higher capacity and reduced size/weight, but not yet ready for market (cost, reliability).
What’s the life expectancy of the lithium-ion batteries?
The batteries are built to last for the life of the vehicle.

What are the pros and cons with the different kinds of batteries?

Battery Types - Overview

Type: +
Lead Acid:

- Cheap
- Powerful
- Rechargeable
- High power capability

- Safe for users
- Long shelf life
- High amp-hours when compared to an equivalent rechargeable

Nickel Metal Hydride:
- Rechargeable
- High power density
- Higher power capability than alkaline

Lithium-ion & Lithium Polymer:

- Rechargeable
- Ultra-light
- High cell voltage
- High power capability
- High power density

Type: --
Lead Acid:
- Heavy
- Large
- Toxic

- Non-rechargeable
- Low capability
- Bad for the environment

Nickel Metal Hydride:
- Self-discharge quickly
- More expensive than NiCds and alkaline

Lithium-ion & Lithium Polymer:

- Expensive
- Delicate
- Require Special circuitry for charging

What is Toyota’s position on some people’s claims that advanced lithium ion batteries for automotive applications will cost less than $1000 per kWh…perhaps lower than $500 per kWh?
In summer 2009, Toyota was asked to testify in front of a committee at the National Academy of Science in Washington, D.C., on the current state of plug-in technology, which of course included a discussion on advanced batteries. That testimony is a matter of public record and has been reported on in the media.
During that testimony a Toyota representative was asked Toyota’s opinion on current battery costs and how significantly it might be reduced. What Toyota said then was that the very rough estimate was approximately $1200 per KWH for a complete pack including instrumentation and ventilation systems…and that efficiencies in scale alone will not create major cost reductions in the near term (Shinichi Abe, NAS testimony). Significant reductions in cost will require major technological breakthroughs (EVP Takimoto, 2009 NAIAS).

What is the development cost for the Prius PHV?
This technology requires a significant investment that is, of course, proprietary.

What specific criteria will Toyota evaluate during the PHV demonstration program?

Toyota’s PHV demonstration program will ensure that the vehicles are driven under a variety of driving conditions and scenarios to capture as much real-world driving data as possible.

How will Toyota collect evaluation data?
Data is being collected from a variety of sources including driver surveys and vehicle data collection.

How long will the PHV demonstration program last?
Program termination dates will vary and are being worked out with each partner individually.

What is your reasoning behind the geographic placement of these vehicles?
The vehicles are being strategically clustered in locations where the vehicles can be supported locally from a service and operations standpoint and Toyota can support localized education and communication opportunities. Vehicles have been placed in northern and southern California, Washington D.C., New York, Boston, Boulder, Colorado, and Portland, Oregon.

What organizations are the vehicles placed with?

Vehicles are currently placed with Portland State University, Zipcar, University of California - Berkeley, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, University of Colorado - Boulder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Center for Sustainable Energy, San Diego Gas & Electric, Qualcomm, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, New York City Department of Transportation, Syracuse Center of Excellence, Syracuse University, CuseCar, and Georgetown University. Additional partners will be announced at a later date.

What features vary on the Prius PHV demo vehicle versus the 2010 Prius?

The Prius PHV features the same body as the Prius but has a few distinct differences.
  • A battery charger lid that covers the battery charger inlet has been added at the driver’s side front fender. This lid includes a unique emblem.
  • The outer mirrors, outside door handles, and back door have been accented with an exclusive high-intensity silver coating.
  • A unique emblem has been added to the right front fender.
  • An exclusive body stripe with distinct Plug-in Hybrid graphics is standard.
While the PHV does not come with the solar roof available on the 2010 Prius, it does offer another option to cool your car while the vehicle is parked. The vehicle is equipped with a remotely activated AC system. While the vehicle is plugged-in just press the AC button on the vehicle’s key fob to start the AC system and either cool, or in the winter, heat your vehicle.

Date of Release: 04-13-2010

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