Prius Plug-in Hybrid Preliminary Ordering Starts on Friday

By · April 19, 2011

Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Toyota today announced the introduction of a new online ordering system for the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid. The first phase of the system will launch on Earth Day, April 22—allowing customers who want to be one of the first to own a Prius Plug-in Hybrid to register their interest.

This is the most tangible sign so far that Toyota will deliver a plug-in version of the Prius as promised in 2012. More importantly, bringing the Prius-with-plug to market marks a major development for plug-in cars, in which consumers can choose between electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids with a wider range of battery sizes. Think of it as a battle between cars with large versus small batteries. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid is capable of only about 13 miles of electric range, with some blending of propulsion along the way from a gas-powered engine.

In general, Toyota believes that hybrids and plug-in hybrids with smaller and less expensive battery packs—rather than pure electric cars with very expensive packs—will provide more value and versatility to consumers. (Toyota will also offer pure electric cars, but in limited numbers.)

Consumers submitting their names into the Toyota order system will do so without knowing the purchase price of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. At this stage, it appears to be a simple waiting list to express interest—with the full online order system (probably with pricing info) becoming available later this year. At that point, customers can configure their vehicle from a web browser, select a preferred dealership, and track the progress of their order.

The Prius Plug-in will begin arriving at Toyota dealers in 15 launch states in spring 2012, with a nationwide roll-out the following year. The 15 launch states include: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.


· · 7 years ago

I don't see how this is a "major development". It only goes 13 miles on a charge, which is hardly worth the bother to plug-in. It also only has a top speed of 60 mph in electric mode, which is just fast enough to get you mowed down on an L.A. freeway.

The Volt I would consider a major development (although its range is just barely worth the bother of plugging in). This I consider underwhelming.

· · 7 years ago

@Michael - I'm not saying that the Prius plug-in technology itself is a major development. Yet, the fact that consumers won't just have the single choice of a Volt-like system--which granted allows for exclusive use of electric propulsion for 35+ miles--but also a Toyota system that is probably going to be priced about $10,000 less than the Volt...that's major. Also consider that the Prius is more spacious.

If you consider that more drivers will use ALL of the electric capacity at 13 miles, and that a fair amount of the time, Volt drivers will come home with juice left in the 16 kWh/35-mile-pack, then you could argue that there's less waste of battery capacity/cost.

From a market perspective, you could also argue that some folks shopping for a gas Prius, might spend a couple thousand more to upgrade to the plug-in version. Considering the scale of Prius production, the lower cost of the Prius PHV versus the Volt, then more total miles on electricity could get chalked up to the Prius versus the Volt.

I don't mean to suggest that it's an either-or. It's great that both varieties of plug-in hybrid are going to be in the marketplace. That's the cool thing. You might view the Prius-style of plug-in hybrid as underwhelming, but again, it's going to be significantly less expensive, not to mention quicker to charge--maybe even small enough of a battery to be fine with Level 1.

Keep in mind that Honda is also developing a plug-in hybrid system, with I believe a 5 or 6 kWh pack. So, we are going to see small and large battery PHEVs. Each consumer will need to figure out which is the better technology/value for them.

· JP (not verified) · 7 years ago

Ford is also using the same methodology as the plug in Prius with their C-Max Energi. They haven’t announced the range yet but best guesstament will be around the 20mi marker before it kicks into hybrid mode. Smaller battery pack = lower cost.

· · 7 years ago

+1 Brad!

The freedom of choice. Instead of top-down command manufacturing (aka gov't bureaucrats running businesses), let consumer choice (aka market demand) be our guide.

I'd rather have 150,000 Prius PHVs sold in the US by 2015 than 15,000 Volts/LEAFs.

Has anyone asked Toyota if they'd consider a CNG Prius HV or PHV? :-) Now that would be super-clean!

Someone should make up bumper stickers for CNG cars that say, "OPEC free!"

· · 7 years ago

Forgot to mention: small batteries may be small enough to charge up at home and then to charge up again while at work. That would be a LOT less expensive than having a battery twice the size that you only have to charge up at home.

The Volt was designed so that, something like 90% of the population could commute both ways on only the charge in its battery from the night before. Excess battery capacity for many customers' daily needs.

Toyota, IMO, is aiming for 90% of people would fully utilize the battery's capacity during their commute to work and back -- different focus (pun intended). Excess battery capacity for very few customers' daily needs.

(Actually, IIRC, Toyota just went w/the smallest battery capacity that qualifies for the gov't subsidy.)

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 7 years ago

Commute go and back 13 miles? Isn’t that a little too short. The Volt with 38 miles seems to be more in line with the actual reality of a go and back commute to work, for many this will even ask a workplace recharge as well since many people have a longer than 19 miles road to work. Actually with present batteries it would be good to have a broader real round trip capability and thus more something like a 70 miles pure EV autonomy. We are talking more of a kind of Nissan Leaf with an on board mini generator then a Prius with a micro EV mode battery.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

The 2012 Toyota Prius plug-in was the car that I wanted to buy.

Last October I was driving my paid off vehicle and saving up for a the plug-in Prius when all of a sudden an SUV pulled out in front of me when making a left turn basically hitting me head on. So thanks to a 22 year old heroin addicted female with no auto insurance I am now the owner of a 2nd gen Prius (which I do like). I will have to wait several more years before I can buy another car instead of getting the one I wanted in a year or two.

But maybe it's a blessing in disguise. Maybe the plug in Prius will get better when it's time for me to buy another car.

· · 7 years ago

I agree with Brad. Bring on the choices.
Of course, I can't see myself choosing a Plug-in Prius who's EV speed tops out below 65 mph. The only thing it offers is long range while still maintaining California carpool stickers. Sad that it will still require most people to still burn a lot of gasoline, even if a lot less than it's gas guzzling non-plug-in Prius ancestors.
I do recommend it for short-range, low speed commuters who are dying to get a plug-in or for extremely long range commuters for whom carpool access is of great value. For most people that I know, however, I can't see much value in the PIP unless it comes out at a very low price. A regular gas-guzzling Prius is a whole lot cheaper and just about as good. Toyota is about 3 years too late with the PIP.

· · 7 years ago

I'd be more then happy to take 13 miles of EV. As a stay at home parent, I can drop off Thing 1 at pre-school and recharge again before pickup. I can run a morning's worth of errands, change during lunch and afternoon nap for Thing 2 and go again that afternoon on EV for a second time. I'll take it!

· · 7 years ago

@John K. · "The freedom of choice. Instead of top-down command manufacturing (aka gov't bureaucrats running businesses), let consumer choice (aka market demand) be our guide."

Huh ?! What are you talking about ? What top-down command manufacturing is making our Leafs ?

· David Murray (not verified) · 7 years ago

We just got a Leaf for my wife since she drives 40+ miles per day. But the Prius PHV would be ideal for me since I drive only 10 miles per day. I could essentially drive it like an EV the vast majority of the time. Unfortunately, I'm in Texas and this vehicle won't be available in Texas for at least 2 years. So i'm thinking about buying a second Leaf.

· Jim1961 (not verified) · 7 years ago

Will the plug in Prius be eligible for an EV tax credit?

· · 7 years ago

Yes, on PIP tax credit, but not the full $7,500. Probably closer to $2,500. And in California, the rebate is already approved for $3,000, not the $5,000 given to buyers of pure EVs.

· Samie (not verified) · 7 years ago

- 1 to John K for that awful analogy.

"The freedom of choice. Instead of top-down command manufacturing (aka gov't bureaucrats running businesses), let consumer choice (aka market demand) be our guide. "

I can't make any logical sense out of what you wrote.

Do you mean no subsides for hybrids or EVs (equal footing with ICE vehicles & only incentives from auto-manufactures)? What about government interfering in the petro market to artificially lower prices & encourage sales of ICE vehicles? How about axing CAFE regulations? That is if you want government to step aside to pure market forces. What about hidden environmental costs? How do markets spur innovation if we only demand 13 miles of electrification for a subsidy?

Personally I feel that consumers have the right to purchase a plug-in Prius but to me any government subsidy for only 13mi is a waste of taxpayer money, the wrong way to reward risk, and encourage market innovation by consumers & producers.

· · 7 years ago


"Personally I feel that consumers have the right to purchase a plug-in Prius but to me any government subsidy for only 13mi is a waste of taxpayer money, the wrong way to reward risk, and encourage market innovation by consumers & producers."

Well, said.

All Toyota did with the Prius was put a little bigger battery in, a little bigger motor, and a charging socket. That's pretty much a no brainer for Toyota, and is not deserving of tax payer subsidies.

A manufacturer should at least have to build something that has as good performance in EV mode, as ICE mode.

· Eric (not verified) · 7 years ago

Remember that everyone has different needs. This would work fantastically for me for two reasons:
1. I have about a 13 mile commute :)
2. I looked into a 240v charger for my garage when I was considering the Leaf. To install it and bring everything up to code was going to cost a fortune even after all the tax credits and rebates available, so since the Prius is supposed to charge in about 3 hours at 120v it is perfect for people in my situation where 240v charging is cost prohibitive.

The bad news for me is I am in the market for a new car within the next year and I'm not in a launch state.

· Jody (not verified) · 7 years ago

I'm not in a launch state either (Illinois) but have put my name on the list. My commute is only around 8 miles round trip, and the PIP would make a lot of sense for me. Depending on the price of the PIP, I was planning on visiting my brother in New York (one of the launch states) and driving back to Illinois. Anybody else who lives in a non-launch state considering buying one in a launch state?

· · 7 years ago

@Michael · " any government subsidy for only 13mi is a waste of taxpayer money".
In reality, it is the first few that gives the best bang for the buck i.e. the marginal % of oil saved is lesser as the battery gets larger.

· Ray (not verified) · 6 years ago

My bro in law gave me a Duracell Powerpack portable battery. Its about the size of big 80's boom box. It says it has 120 volt capacity. Cant I charge that on my solar panels and throw it in the back of my Prius PHV. When I reach work at 13 miles, cant I just plug the car into the Duracell powerpack and recharge as much as possible during work? Then I extend my EV potential.

· · 6 years ago

I suspect that Powerpack only has less than 1 kWhr of energy in it. That would get you less than 4 extra miles of range.
Essentially, it might work but probably wouldn't be worth the effort.

· Patricia (not verified) · 6 years ago

I am considering going to a neighboring state to obtain a PIP. I'd like to know if Ray's comment about being able to get some recharge using solar and a Duracel power pack is possible. My daily commute is 22 miles. We are looking at retrofitting our 1976 home with solar panels so the idea of using solar to facilitate additional PIP recharge is very enticing. Idaho has a large amout of sun time available. Come to think of it, is it possible to mount a solar panel on the roof of the PIP and feed it into the recharger pack?

· · 6 years ago

@Patricia, While using solar on your house to charge an EV or PHEV, like the coming Plug-in Prius, is an excellent idea, it isn't practical to mount PV panels on the car itself. I know it sounds like a neat idea but the amount of power produced would be too tiny to be worth the extra weight and cost. The solar panels would be much more practical, and cost effective, mounted on your house.

While you will get excellent gas mileage from the PIP you could increase it considerably if you can arrange to charge while at work. Be aware that, unlike the Chevy Volt, the PIP uses the gas engine for acceleration and high speeds even when the battery is charged. It doesn't just deplete the battery first before using the gas engine.

· chrisb (not verified) · 6 years ago

how does this system work? eg,i drive 26 miles one way,i use up the first 13 mi on batteries,kick into hybrid mode,get some regenerative recharge,then what? i guess my question is,how much charge is left after my 52 mi round trip(regeneration a variable,of course). in other words, am i recharging at home a 5% 10% 50% etc depleted battery pack?Or to put it simply,if the onboard generator is keeping the batts close to full capacity,whats the use of plugging it in?

· · 6 years ago

@chrisb ·

With 26 miles one way commute, you should recharge whenever you can - including at work. You will not have much energy in the battery after 13 (or 10) miles.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

It is really sad how the PIP only will go 13 miles in EV mode....that stinks! Couldn't Toyota have built a PIP with a 40 or 50 mile range?

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