By Alexander Kramer
Despite being mercilessly picked on by car enthusiasts and members of the automotive press, the Toyota Prius has been an unqualified success. The best-selling Prius has become synonymous with hybrid cars and perhaps even Toyota itself.
Having been on the market for over 10 years now, Toyota has decided to double-down on this success by introducing a new family of Prius based cars, including the larger Prius V, the smaller Prius C, and a Plug-in version of the existing 3rd generation Prius. We were recently invited to drive these new models (except for the Prius C, which is still in concept form) at a Media Preview for the GreenDriveExpo, held in Richmond, CA.
As we’ve already commented on the new Prius V wagon, we’ll focus here on the new Prius Plug-in, which has garnered a lot of buzz from the Prius faithful. Toyota has spent the past year doing extensive testing on the Prius Plug-in, even putting several hundred test cars out onto the road to see how the plug-in technology fares in real world driving. Based on feedback from these test cars, the Prius Plug-in was further refined and will be available to the public in Spring 2012.
What does a Prius Plug-in give you over the regular model? To sum it up in one sentence, you have the ability to drive on electric power alone for up to 15 miles, which turns the Prius into a short-range EV, or electric vehicle. Although this might not seem like much, Toyota figures that for many people this will be enough for all or most of their commute to work.
The benefit of such a short EV distance is short charging time: 3 hours on a 110v outlet and only 1.5 hours on 220v. So, if you happen to have a charging station at your work, you could easily charge it up while at the office, effectively doubling the range to a 30 mile round-trip commute, which should cover most car commuters.
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