Will the Prius V Get the Plug-in Treatment Too? According to Toyota it's a Possibility

By · June 24, 2011

A few weeks ago I had the chance to drive the Prius V on the West Coast regional media launch in Monterey, CA. Brad Berman wrote up the full first drive report over at our sister site, HybridCars.com, and he found that Toyota accomplished its mission of making a larger Prius that still returns good mileage.

I can corroborate that the Prius V will greatly expand the market for potential Prius customers and the car shows all the hallmarks of Toyota's value and quality proposition. If you like the Prius but the only thing holding you back from buying one was the cargo room, you'll like the Prius V.

One thing of note, however, was that the noise level in my Prius V tester was quite high—I could hear the whine of the engine much louder than in a regular Prius and every bump in the road seemed to be echoed in the cabin. Toyota representatives said that this was likely due to the test vehicles being pre-production cars, and that the level of sound insulation would be much better on the production version. Let's hope so, because it was quite disturbing.

Is There a Plug-in Prius V on The Horizon?

The one thing I was very curious about for PluginCars.com readers was whether or not the Prius V would get the plug-in treatment. Given that Toyota is just about to start selling the Prius Plug-in Hybrid to consumers, and the Prius V really is just a larger Prius, it seems like a no-brainer for Toyota to eventually sell the Prius V in a plug-in version as well.

Turns out I was right—sort of.

"We don't have any plans right now to deliver a plug-in version of the Prius V," said Ron Ishii, Senior Field Engineer for Toyota in an interview with PluginCars.com. "But the engineers and designers don't leave any possibilities out of the equation. The Prius V packaging is very similar to the Prius on purpose. In the back of the car under the floor where the battery sits, the packaging is almost identical so the larger battery required of the plug-in system could fit there the same as it does in the Prius Plug-in."

According to Ishii, Toyota is using the Prius Plug-in Hybrid as a way to gauge how best to move ahead with adapting the plug-in technology to other vehicles. If consumers show that they are willing to trade off higher cost for the 12 mile all-electric range of the Prius Plug-in, then Toyota will start moving the plug-in system to its other Prius family cars.

"Hopefully the success of the plug-in Prius will help us move towards the release of a plug-in Prius V," said Ed Laroque, National Marketing Manager for Toyota Advanced Technology Vehicles, in an interview with PluginCars.com. "We don't have any firm plans to add the plug-in capability to the Prius V. We're going to monitor consumer demand for the Prius Plug-in, we're going to monitor how successful the Prius V is and we're going to listen to our customers. If our customers demand a plug-in from us we will deliver it."

The upcoming Ford C-Max will be the closest competition for the Prius V, and the fact that Ford will be releasing both a hybrid and plug-in hybrid version of the C-Max could also push Toyota to make a plug-in version of the Prius V.

"We have a million U.S. sales of the Prius and we will continue to be the dominant player in that arena," said Laroque. "But with that said we will absolutely be looking at the competition—Honda announced they will be delivering a plug-in hybrid, Ford will be in the mix and the Volt is already out there. If we need to adjust our product strategy to remain on top, and that means we need to add a plug-in Prius V, we will do it. I think ultimately the customers will tell us if they think the plug-in technology is worth the extra cost."

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