Finally the Toyota Prius PHEV debut happened at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show! Now I just can't wait to get behind the wheel of a PHEV Prius to see if it's really for me.
Here's a Prius PHEV press release outlining a lot of things we need to know.
The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid - The Greenest, most Technically Advanced Prius Yet
- CO2 emissions of only 49 g/km and fuel consumption of just 2.1 l/100 km
- EV driving range of approximately 23 km1
- Fully rechargeable in just 1.5 hours
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Toyota's first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to go on sale to the mass market, makes its production vehicle world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.
Toyota's focus on PHEV technology meets current consumer requirements. Recent Accenture research, entitled ‘Plug-in electric vehicles: changing perceptions, hedging bets' on the electrification of private transport, suggests that consumers may favour PHEVs over full EVs because they require fewer changes to current driving habits and levels of convenience².
The next major milestone in Toyota's ongoing, 40 year quest for sustainable mobility and the ultimate eco car, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid represents the latest development of the company's modular Hybrid Synergy Drive® platform - credible, trusted and reliable full hybrid technology with a proven track record garnered over some 200 billion kilometres of driving worldwide.
Offering a considerable expansion of the Hybrid Synergy Drive® system's capabilities, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid incorporates a lithium-ion battery to offer an EV driving range of approximately 23 km1. Beyond the electric driving range, it can be used as a conventional full hybrid with all the efficiency of a standard Prius, and fully recharged from a domestic source when convenient, in just 1.5 hours.
With a total HSD system power output of 100 kW, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 10.7 seconds and has a top speed of 180 km/h. Its EV cruising range of approximately 23 km1 enables it to achieve remarkable fuel efficiency of just 2.1 l/100 km1, and to lower CO2 emissions to an unprecedented 49 g/km1.
At approximately 1,420 kg, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is only 50 kg heavier than the regular Prius, and no heavier than any comparable diesel or petrol engined car in the segment.
Addressing the specific needs of drivers commuting to urban areas, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will appeal to very similar customers to those who were early adopters of the first generation Prius; forward-thinking, ecologically-aware individuals attracted to the new vehicle's unique concept, environmentally-friendly credentials and advanced, highly sophisticated technology.
Sales will start in early 2012, mainly in Japan, US and Europe, with anticipated sales of approximately 50,000 units annually.
Urban Powertrain Electrification - The Case for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles
It is estimated that the majority of Europeans will live in urban areas by the end of the decade. As a result, the demand for environmentally-friendly commuter vehicles is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. Based on current conditions, industry attention is now focused on electricity as the most practical energy source.
Many EU member states are struggling to achieve the required EU air quality standards, specifically in urban environments. This has resulted in city authorities introducing criteria to restrict the entry of specific types of vehicles to city centres. Following a direction recently proposed in the EU Transport White Paper , some cities are going further and considering a ban on conventional vehicles from city centres and the promotion of electric vehicles.
The environmental merits of electric vehicles (EVs) as urban commuters are well proven, but their further development is currently handicapped by a number of factors. On the technical side, inappropriately large, heavy and costly batteries are required to offer a driving range which only satisfies the needs of those with a very specific usage pattern. Perhaps more significantly, from the customer perspective, no adequate recharging infrastructure yet exists, and range anxiety remains a major concern.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid addresses each of these issues, making it the most feasible short- to mid-term solution for the electrification of powertrains.
Building on the core technology of Toyota's renowned Hybrid Synergy Drive®, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid sets a new benchmark in environmentally-friendly mobility by offering customers commuting to urban areas the best of both worlds.
It offers an extended, EV driving range, yet it can be driven without any concerns over exceeding the electric power range. At this point, it can be driven as a regular, full hybrid vehicle offering the same environmental credentials and true long range capability as a standard Prius.
A full hybrid capable of operating in petrol and electric modes alone, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid delivers a truly 21st century driving experience. It rewards customers with the pleasure of uniquely stress-free, relaxed and remarkably quiet operation, while returning unparalleled fuel efficiency and the lowest possible CO2, NOX and PM (Particulate Matter) emissions.
The reduction of CO2 emissions has been a mainstream global issue since the 1990s (the 1997 Kyoto Protocol outlining specific numeric goals), and vehicle taxation based on CO2 emissions is now commonplace. However, the focus on curbing CO2 emissions has meant that legislation to limit the pollution of the urban environment through road traffic-generated NOX and PM emissions remains, thus far, significantly less stringent.
Although Euro 6 exhaust emission regulations will bring the diesel engine NOX emission limits closer to those of petrol units (80 versus 60 mg/km on the NEDC), the Prius Plug-in still generates significantly lower NOX emissions than diesel engine cars and undercuts the Euro 6 standards by 98%. Moreover, when operating in its extended EV mode, it generates zero CO2, NOX and particulate emissions.
PHEV European Limited Lease Project
Toyota initiated its Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) project in 2007, with road trials of a prototype vehicle in France and in UK in 2008. In 2010, the project entered its second phase when a limited production vehicle, based on the third-generation Prius equipped with a Lithium-ion battery, was used for pan-European road trials.
As part of a global Toyota project, 200 vehicles have been leased to selected partners and customers in 18 European countries. France, the UK and Germany are operating a total 150 PHEVs between them. The largest single group of vehicles is located in Strasbourg, France, where a 70 PHEV-strong project is underway in collaboration with Toyota's partner, French energy provider EDF, and the City and Urban Community of Strasbourg (CUS).
After nearly a year, the PHEVs involved in the project have been intensively driven both in the urban environment and on longer journeys out of the city. With an average yearly mileage of 13,180 km, project participants have acquired nearly 800,000 km of PHEV driving experience.
With two thirds of commutes covering under 20 km, the zero emission, fully electric range of the PHEV satisfies a significant share of the users' daily requirements. 35% of users also completed long distance trips of more than 100 km at least once a week, and the PHEV's ability to operate as a full hybrid eliminates the range anxiety associated with journeys of this length in a fully electric vehicle.
Fuel efficiency figures obtained under real-world conditions show that the PHEV consumes 36% less fuel than the comparable, best-in-class diesel vehicle and almost 50% less than the best-in-class petrol vehicle. Users that maximised the potential of the PHEV and made optimal use of the existing recharging infrastructure were able to return average fuel consumption figures of less than 2.0 l/100km.
The New Prius Plug-in Hybrid, The Hybrid Synergy Drive® Technology Flagship
The wealth of real-world user feedback generated by the global limited lease projects has enabled Toyota to re-evaluate every aspect of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid's performance to date. As a result, the production vehicle benefits not only from several key technological improvements over its lease project counterpart, but also considerable enhancements to its everyday practicality and usability.
The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid features a new lithium-ion battery with a high capacity of 4.4 kWh and a weight of only 80 kg. This compares favourably to the nickel-metalhydride battery of the latest generation Prius, which has a capacity of 1.3 kWh and weighs 42 kg.
Via a battery charger inlet now relocated beneath a discreet, flush-mounted panel in the production vehicle's right-hand rear wing, the battery pack can be fully recharged in 1.5 hours from a standard, 230V household outlet, with no need for an expensive fast-charger.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers the driver three switchable, ‘on-demand' drive modes - HV, EV and EV-City .
With HV mode selected, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid functions similarly to the standard Prius. It delivers the classic, highly efficient Toyota HSD driving experience, seamlessly engaging the petrol engine as appropriate. The vehicle's switchable EV mode range is preserved for later use in urban environments.
With EV mode selected, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is able to draw upon the full capacity of the battery and will remain in electric drive mode, allowing for urban driving with minimal noise and zero CO2 and NOX emissions, for up to approximately 23 kilometres at speeds of up to 85 km/h.
The petrol engine will still start if the system judges that additional power is necessary, however the use of light to medium throttle inputs keeps it switched off throughout EV mode operation.
With EV-City mode selected, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid matches the EV mode's characteristics. Increased electric operation is ensured by allowing more forceful use of the throttle before the petrol engine kicks in.
Switched separately, ECO mode may be independently activated when the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is operating in HV, EV or EV-City modes. In any drive mode, throttle response to accelerator pedal inputs is reduced and air-conditioning control optimized for improved fuel economy. Depending on driving conditions, the ECO mode can help drivers achieve a perceptible reduction in fuel consumption.
Exclusive Design, Practical and Technologically Advanced Interior
In recognition of its status as the next generation eco car from the Toyota hybrid stable, several subtle exterior detail changes differentiate the Prius Plug-in Hybrid from the standard Prius.
The front of the new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid features an exclusive grille and front bumper design. To the rear, a clear lens combination lamp design further differentiates the new vehicle from the standard Prius. A high-brightness silver finish has been adopted for the door handles, license garnish and battery charger lid, and the vehicle features exclusive ‘Plug-in Hybrid' badging to the front wings and tailgate.
Following lease customer feedback, the battery charger inlet has been relocated from the left front wing to a discreet, flush-mounted panel in the production vehicle's right-hand rear wing. Every aspect of the charging operation itself has also been reconsidered.
The Charge Circuit Interface Device (CCID) has been made more compact, and a 25% lighter, more flexible charging cable that does not stiffen in cold weather has been developed. The battery charger lid has been incorporated into the cover for easier, single-operation closing, and now features a battery charger indicator and LED illumination for enhanced night-time visibility. As an additional safety measure, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid cannot be started whilst the charging cable is connected.
On board, the sensorial quality of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid interior has been raised through a new colour scheme with silver inserts, a revised centre console design, and an improved multi-information display with enhanced EV driving support meter functions.
The air conditioning is coordinated with the standard front seat heaters. This enables the system to reach a comfortable temperature for the driver and passenger more quickly and efficiently, further improving the vehicle's fuel efficiency.
The installation of the newly developed, more compact lithium-ion battery has allowed for a loadspace deck on a par with the conventional Prius, and a luggage capacity of 443 litres. Under-boot storage of 40.5 litres offers ample space to store the charging cable beneath the loadspace floor.
Advanced And Affordable Multimedia Systems
Reflecting today's highly connected society, on-board multimedia systems are in increasing demand. Placing a particularly high value on touch-screen operation, customers require a system which gives centralized control of the widest possible range of vehicle functions, as well as connectivity to external devices such as mobile phones and portable music players.
In response, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid, offer customers a unique range of multimedia equipment choices, from the most affordable touch screen interface to the most sophisticated satellite navigation yet created by Toyota, as well as a new, power-saving JBL premium sound system.
Fitted as standard, Toyota Touch is a 6.1 inch, full colour, touch-screen interface which represents a new approach to affordable, on-board multimedia systems. In a choice of seven EU languages, it offers customers a wide range of interactive functions without the added expense of an integral satellite navigation system, making it available to the widest possible range of customers.
It incorporates AM/FM radio with enhanced FM reception through the first use of two tuners and two antennae, a CD/MP3 player, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity with a music streaming facility, and a USB port for the connection of portable music players, with the facility to display iPod album cover art.
In addition, a rear view camera is fitted as standard.
Toyota Touch & Go Plus
Building on the Toyota Touch multimedia base unit, Toyota Touch & Go Plus equips the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid with an optional navigation system representing the best value for money on the market. With a choice of 14 languages, it includes all the most popular navigation functions, such as advanced traffic coverage, customisable speed limits, speed camera warnings, 3D city models and landmarks.
Toyota Touch Pro
The launch of the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid will also mark the introduction of the most sophisticated satellite navigation system yet offered by the company, the new Toyota Touch Pro.
The premium quality multimedia system features a high-resolution 7.0 inch touch-screen interface with a ‘home' screen, at-a-glance function displaying the most relevant air-conditioning, audio and navigation information. With a choice of 20 menu and guidance languages, the system covers the whole of Europe.
It offers a comprehensive range of advanced features including voice recognition, automatic map zoom at intersections, 3D city model and landmark graphics, an on-line Points Of Interest search facility and a supplementary driver's navigational guidance head-up display.
The system also provides access to SMS messages and emails, and includes a ‘text-to-speech' message readout facility. A rear camera with dynamic guidance lines to help manoeuvring in confined spaces is fitted as standard.
Toyota Touch Pro also incorporates DAB/DAB+/DMB digital radio as standard, making it compatible with a new advanced Transport Protocol Export Group (TPEG) traffic information service . Based on a digital communication channel, TPEG represents a significant improvement over existing, RDS-TMC analogue systems because it can carry far more information.
Not only will its pin-point accuracy enable better navigation routing, but it will also supplement a basic traffic event and flow service with information on parking availability and fuel prices, adding additional information including speed limits and weather thereafter.
JBL GreenEdge Premium Sound System
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid introduces another Toyota first, a new JBL Premium Sound System which features GreenEdge. This technology helps to maximize energy efficiency by reducing operational power requirements by up to 80% of those of a conventional on-board audio system.
At the heart of the system is a JBL GreenEdge amplifier, which is 66% smaller and lighter than comparable units. Because the amplifier's Tracking Power Technology measures audio input in real time, only the necessary electricity is provided to the amplification circuit. This greatly reduces heat loss, and effects a 50% reduction in current consumption.
High-efficiency JBL GreenEdge speakers consume 50% less power than conventional speakers for the same sound output levels. They feature custom designed acoustic lenses to spread a more powerful sound across an even wider frequency range.
Smart Grid For The Future Mobility Society
Toyota's next-generation, environmentally-friendly PHEVs and EVs will become a key element of the social system and play an important role in realising a low-carbon society.
However, the amount of electricity these vehicles consume whilst recharging accounts for a substantial part of an ordinary household's total power consumption. And if many vehicles charge their batteries simultaneously during specific hours of the day, it will boost society's peak power demand. It is, therefore, crucial that this charging time is optimally controlled.
In response to these requirements, Toyota is working on the Smart Grid concept -an electricity network wherein power supply and demand is efficiently controlled using IT to ensure a stable power supply and optimum energy saving.
The Smart Grid is designed to help customers live a comfortable, low-carbon eco-life by connecting vehicles, homes and people. At the heart of the Smart Grid is Toyota Home's Smart House, currently on test in Japan.
The Smart House is equipped with a Home Energy Management System (HEMS), which controls the generation of electricity by solar panels, its storage in a home battery and its efficient consumption, including vehicle charging times. The PHEV or EV is integral to the system, and the vehicle battery may be used as a household power source in emergencies.
Smart House occupants' smart phones are also integrated into the system, monitoring home power consumption and facilitating the remote control of appliances to support an eco-lifestyle. In addition, the smart phone will also check PHEV or EV battery level, set battery charging time and control the vehicle's remote air conditioning to help support eco-driving.
The Smart Houses in each district are connected to a Toyota Smart Centre; a local information centre which monitors power company and home electricity generation, and each home's power usage. The Smart Centre plans power consumption and storage, and gives advice where necessary to help level power demands and ensure that electricity is efficiently used throughout the entire community.
To establish the Smart Grid, advanced IT technologies and large-scale information infrastructures are necessary, while cooperation amongst various industries and government agencies is essential. To that end, Toyota is already participating in tests to evaluate the next generation of eco-cars and introduce the Smart Grid on a global scale.
In Japan, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) programme is promoting PHEVs and EVs in 18 designated model prefectures such as Aichi, Osaka and Kyoto, encouraging their use as public service vehicles. METI-supported, next-generation energy/social system projects at Toyota City and Kitakyushu City are both developing a low-carbon community from the consumer's viewpoint and testing factory management systems for industrial cities.
In Rokkasho Village, Aomori, another TMC project covers all power requirements for homes and PHEVs with natural, wind and solar power energy, and is conducting various tests for the establishment of a Toyota Smart Centre.
In the United States, the world's first whole-town Smart Grid demonstration project is underway in Boulder City, Colorado. Led by local power companies, the project will evaluate the PHEV's usability, charging performance and connection with homes.
In Tianjin City, China, a joint project with the China Automotive Technology and Research Centre (CATARC) will evaluate the usability and charging performance of the PHEV.
In France, as part of a larger study on the energy convergence between solar power, buildings and transport, 10 Toyota PHEVs are involved in projects which focus on the use of solar power for recharging. The trials, taking place at the National Institute of Solar Energy (INES) in Chambery and the Agency for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA) in Grenoble, are designed to maximise the use of solar energy and minimise fossil fuel requirements in a recharging infrastructure.