Toyota estimates that there will be at least 16,000 U.S. sales of plug-in Prius hatchbacks achieved in 2012 after the vehicle launches in the early part of that year. The new variant of this model, which is the bestselling hybrid in the world, is designed to be recharged at a standard 110-volt outlet, the company’s spokesman John Hanson disclosed.
He added that the vehicle will run at least 13 miles solely on its lithium-ion battery pack before operating like a standard Prius that averages 50 m.p.g. of gasoline in city and highway driving.
Hanson also stated that they think that the vehicle is going to be a “strong seller” and that the company will deliver to “whatever level the market wants." He is also positive that the company is on track to selling 16,000 to 17,000 units in 2012.
Since it brought the Prius to the U.S. in 2000, Toyota has been dominating sales of vehicles running on alternative power. The company has sold 140,928 of the hybrids last year.
The new variant joins a market for rechargeable vehicles led this year by the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, both of which offer greater all-electric range. The Leaf can run as far as 100 miles while the GN vehicle can go 35 miles.
The new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid also ushers in another application for the Japanese carmaker’s core technology: the Hybrid Synergy Drive.
Hybrid Synergy Drive is very adaptable to use different energy sources because of its modular nature. You can use the technology for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Fuel Cell Vehicles, and Electric Vehicles.
With the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, you can have the full hybrid system and enjoy top range economy. An externally charged battery can help extend the driving range of an all-electric car.
Used with an electric vehicle EV powertrain, you have a stripped down HSD architecture without the petrol engine. That means that you are using a more powerful motor powered with enough battery power for several hours of driving on a single charge.
In Fuel Cell Vehicles, on the other hand, the hydrogen fuel cells replace the petrol engine in the HSD system. The fuel cells eliminate the need for external charging, but you would need to fuel up on liquid nitrogen like the way you gas up the Prius HSD system with petrol.
The Smart Grid
The carmaker’s PHEVs and EVs will have a significant contribution in the company’s vision of having a low-carbon society. And to ensure that peak power demand is not affected (and increasing the cost of electricity), these cars have a means to control charging time.
Toyota came up with the Smart Grid concept. The smart grid is an electricity network that has IT controlling the supply and demand. That ensures that the power supply is steady and that you get to save on your electricity costs. The system connects homes, cars and people, enabling customers to save and be more ecologically friendly. In fact, the system is used in Toyota Home’s Smart House that is currently being tested in Japan.
The Smart House features the Home Energy Management System. The system controls the electricity generated by solar panels, as well as how it is stored in a battery, and ensures efficient power consumption. The HEMS also includes vehicle charging schedules. In case of a power outage, you can even use your PHEVs to light your house.
All of the smart houses in a certain district are connected to the Toyota Smart Centre. The Toyota Smart Centre is an information center that monitors the electricity generated by both the power company and the smart home. It also monitors power usage and then plans for electricity consumption and storage. The Smart Centre dispenses advice on how to reduce power demands and how to use electricity more efficiently.
Toyota was able to establish its Smart Grid with the help of different government agencies and industries, while also investing in large scale IT infrastructure and advanced technologies. The Smart Grid is destined for the world stage and similar projects are being introduced in Japan, China, France and the United States.