2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid: official details, photos and specs

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 14, 2011

Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid production vehicle made its world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show. This is the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) from Toyota to go on sale in the mass market. Toyota said that present consumer needs are met by its PHEV technology. According to the latest Accenture research on Plug-in electric vehicles, the perceptions are changing.

The hedging bets on the electrification of private transport imply that consumers would favor PHEVs over full EVs since they need to change only a few aspects of their driving habits and convenience levels.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid stands for the next big milestone in Toyota’s pursuit for “sustainable mobility and the ultimate eco car.” It is the latest development from Toyota’s modular Hybrid Synergy Drive platform, which is a full hybrid technology that has a solid track record after covering more than 200 billion kilometres of driving throughout the globe.

It offers a significant expansion of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system’s capabilities as the Prius Plug-in Hybrid uses a lithium-ion battery to provide an EV driving range of around 14.3 miles (its target).

When the electric driving range is exceeded, the vehicle could then function as a conventional full hybrid with the efficiency of a standard Prius. It can be fully recharged from home in only 1.5 hours. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid has a total HSD system power output of 134bhp, with a 0-62mph acceleration time of 10.7 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.

With its EV cruising range, it offers a stunning fuel efficiency of 134.5mpg and it could achieve unprecedented CO2 figures of 49g/km. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid weighs about 1,420kg, making it just 50kg heavier than the regular Prius.

Its weight is actually comparable to that of any diesel or petrol car in its segment. Prius Plug-in Hybrid aims to meet the specific requirements of drivers who commute to urban areas. Hence, it will appeal to those who adopted the first generation Prius. It will start selling early next year primarily in Japan, the USA and Europe. It’s expected to sell around 50,000 units each year.

Press Release

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

The launch of the new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid represents one further application of Hybrid Synergy Drive® and is Toyota's core technology platform for the future.

Hybrid Synergy Drive® has been specifically designed to be modular and, adaptable to diverse energy sources, may be readily used in Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV), Electric Vehicles (EV) and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV).

In the case of the PHEV, the full hybrid system architecture - and its long range capability - remains essentially the same, with a more powerful, externally charged battery significantly extending the all-electric driving range.

When designed as an EV powertrain, it employs a simplified HSD architecture with no petrol engine, compensating through a more powerful electric motor and sufficient battery power to drive the vehicle for several hours before external recharging is required.

Once again driven by a powerful electric motor, the FCV replaces the HSD system's petrol engine with hydrogen fuel cell technology. With the fuel cells generating electricity to charge the battery pack the FCV has no need of external charging, merely requiring refuelling with liquid hydrogen in the same manner as the Prius HSD system requires petrol.

Smart Grid for the Future Mobility Society

Toyota's PHEVs and EVs will play an important role in realising a low-carbon society. However, 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, 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.

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 participating in tests to evaluate the next generation of eco-cars and introduce the Smart Grid on a global scale, with projects in Japan, the United States, China and France already underway.

The World's First Full Hybrid Family

With the launch of the new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid - the new flagship of the Prius family - the Prius becomes the first full hybrid vehicle available as a complete, stand-alone model range.

The Prius+ - the first full hybrid 7-seat vehicle to go on sale in Europe- targets growing families who require the space and flexibility of a larger, seven-seat vehicle. The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid will appeal to a new group of environmentally conscientious early adopters thanks to its extended, 25 km EV range.

After the extensive feedback of five year-long trial projects, Toyota has adopted an extended EV range of 25 km for its new PHEV. Not only does this distance offer the best compromise between EV range, performance, packing, vehicle weight and price, but it also has been found to meet the daily commuting requirements of 80% of European citizens.

The three models of the Prius family will significantly expand the standard Prius customer base and subsequent sales, their respective combined CO2 emissions of 89 g/km, 96 g/km and just 49 g/km representing unprecedented environmental credentials from an entire model range.

Plug-in Technology Proven through Extensive Trials

The start of Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid global sales follows an extensive PHEV leasing project which has taken place throughout the world, in two phases, over the last five years.

Initiated in July 2007, 10 years after the launch of the first generation Prius, the first phase involved about 20 vehicles, of which four were tested in Europe. This first phase was dedicated to intensive research and development through real life road trials in countries including France and the UK, with a specific focus on the relationship between the new technology involved and its users.

Simultaneous research into the development of a public, private and company recharging infrastructure is fundamental to the viability of a PHEV project. To that end, the first phase also marked the start of Toyota's ongoing partnership with French energy company, EDF, who is present in many European markets.

In December 2009, the second development phase began. It was centred on a worldwide limited lease project involving some 600 prototype vehicles, of which 200 were leased to selected partners and customers in 18 European countries.

Toyota's European Prius Plug-in Hybrid limited lease project started in Strasbourg, France, at the end of April 2010, with the three year leasing of 100 Prius Plug-in Hybrid prototype vehicles by private companies and other organisations, including government bodies, local authorities, energy providers and a car sharing company.

Widely recognised as 'the other European Union capital', Strasbourg has had a notably advanced mobility strategy in place for some time, making it the ideal location for a large-scale demonstration of the urban-friendly practicalities of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

Simultaneously, Toyota's partner EDF began creating a complimentary recharging infrastructure, installing charging points at the facilities of project partners, in public parking lots, on public roads and reinforced plugs at users' homes.

Some 20 vehicles were introduced in the UK, and another 15-20 in Germany. Toyota also introduced the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid on a global scale, with participants including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States of America.

Real World PHEV Driver Behaviour Analysis

Both in Europe and around the world, the road trials allowed Toyota to fine tune its ongoing PHEV research and development. The gathering of real world vehicle-use feedback has enabled the company to better understand customer expectations of plug-in technology, while spurring the development of a public access charging station infrastructure.

All leased Prius Plug-in Hybrid prototype vehicles were equipped with data retrieval devices which monitored everyday user activities such as when, and how often, the vehicle was charged, the extent of battery depletion at the time of charging, trip duration, percentage of EV use and EV range achieved, and fuel efficiency.

The PHEVs involved in the leasing project were 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 acquired nearly 800,000 km of PHEV driving experience.

With over 70% of journeys covering less than 25 km, the zero emission, fully electric range of the PHEV satisfied a significant share of the users' daily requirements. 42% of users also completed long distance trips of more than 100 km at least once a week, thanks to the PHEV's ability to operate as a full hybrid eliminating 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/100 km.

Plug-in Hybrid Technology - Extended EV Range With No Constraints

Electricity has high potential as an alternative to oil, may be produced from renewable sources such as solar, wind, tidal and hydro-electric power, can be readily supplied, and is carbon neutral at the point of consumption.

However, although the environmental merits of EVs as urban commuters are well proven, the further development of such vehicles is currently handicapped by the weight, size and cost of the large capacity batteries required to offer satisfactory range, and the lack of an adequate recharging infrastructure.

In focusing on PHEV technology, Toyota has addressed the issues of driving range, cost and infrastructure. The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is a full hybrid vehicle in which both the electric motor and petrol engine can drive the wheels. An extended fully electric, EV mode is employed for city driving, while the hybrid powertrain's petrol engine awards the car true long range capability.

A further benefit of its extended EV driving range and ultra-low CO2 emissions, Toyota's new PHEV qualifies for various customer rebates and taxation benefits in over 10 European countries, with a significant impact on both purchase and running costs.

Rather than the former replacing the latter, both standard and Plug-in versions of the Prius full hybrid will co-exist on the market for the foreseeable future.

Inspired by the Prius, with Exclusive Design Cues

Sharing the third generation Prius' characteristic, sweeping triangular silhouette, and 20 mm longer to accommodate a new frontal design, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is instantly recognisable as the flagship model in Toyota's remarkable full hybrid family.

The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid weighs just 1,425 kg, only 55 kg more than a standard Prius. The weight of the new Lithium-ion battery has been limited to just 80 kg, 50% less than that of the 2010 prototype vehicle's battery pack and only 38 kg more than that of regular Prius' nickel metal-hydride battery, despite an extension of the car's EV driving mode range.

As with every member of the Prius family, in order to fully benefit from its light-weight, high tensile steel and aluminium construction and Hybrid Synergy Drive® powertrain, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid's distinctive exterior design focuses on maximising aerodynamic efficiency to improve fuel economy, handling stability and quietness. The result is an aerodynamic vehicle with an excellent coefficient of drag of only Cd 0.25, which it shares with the standard Prius.

The front of the new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid features the latest representation of Toyota's trapezoidal, Under Priority design. Beneath an upper grille opening kept as small as possible to maintain a smooth airflow over the upper body, the lower grille has been enlarged, and incorporates a chrome-plated moulding and a silver accent colour to the upper trim panel.

The upper headlamp extension area features a blue smoke paint finish to further differentiate the new Toyota PHV from the rest of the Prius family.

In profile, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid may be identified by a battery charger lid located on the opposite rear wing to the fuel filler cap, which features a silver plug logo to readily differentiate it from the fuel cap. Additional PHEV-specific details include a silver accent finish to the door handles, an exclusive new 15", 5 spoke alloy wheel design which contributes to aerodynamic performance, and a front fender-mounted Plug-in Hybrid logo.

To the rear, the large, energy efficient LED lamp clusters are finished with a unique, clear lens, the license garnish features an exclusive silver accent colour, and the Hybrid Synergy Drive® badging has been adapted to incorporate a plug-in symbol.

The Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is available in a six colour range; Silver, Abyss Grey, Pearl White, Super White, Frosty Green and, exclusive to the new Toyota PHEV, True Blue.

Innovative and Spacious Interior Design

Despite a significant increase in EV mode driving range, the highly compact packaging of the new Lithium-ion battery pack means that neither rear passenger accommodation nor loadspace have been compromised.

The new Toyota PHEV accommodates 5 people and has a luggage capacity of 443 litres with the rear seats in position, only 2 litres smaller than that of the standard Prius, with the added benefit of a 22 litre storage box beneath the loadspace deck. With the 60:40 split rear seats folded down to give a flat loadspace floor, luggage capacity increases to a total of 1,120 litres.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid shares the third generation Prius' dual-zone dashboard, designed to both minimise the need for driver eye movement while viewing vehicle information and to provide ergonomic functionality of all controls and switchgear. The new PHEV's dashboard is hallmarked by high brightness silver paint trim and a Plug-in Hybrid-exclusive logo.

The upper, 'display zone' focuses on the combination of a head-up display and a rebated centre meter cluster positioned at an ideal distance for at-a-glance reading of vehicle status information. As well as vehicle speed and other conventional instrumentation, the LED meter also incorporates a Touch Tracer display, and an ECO Drive Support Monitor with expanded content and functionality.

The lower 'command zone' is characterised by a distinctive, asymmetric 'bridge' construction which not only places the fly-by-wire transmission lever within the closest possible reach of the driver's hand but also creates a generous additional storage compartment below. This lower zone focuses on the full-colour Toyota Touch display screen, placing the control of audio and satellite navigation systems within easy reach of the driver.

The front seats now benefit from a new, two-step heater system with improved control to suppress temperature fluctuations and enhance comfort. In Eco mode, the seat heaters are now automatically coordinated with the air conditioning system. They activate to warm occupants more quickly, reducing the load on the air conditioning system to further increase the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid's fuel efficiency.

Plug-in Hybrid Powertrain based on HSD Technology

Setting a new benchmark in environmentally-friendly mobility, the new Prius Plug-in Hybrid represents a new implementation of the Hybrid Synergy Drive® system's capabilities.

Building on the core technology of Toyota's renowned full hybrid powertrain, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid addresses the specific needs of urban-based customers with a significantly extended, fully-electric EV driving range of 25 km for shorter, cross-city journeys, while the hybrid powertrain's petrol engine awards the new Toyota PHEV true long range capability of over 1,200 km.

A full hybrid capable of operating in petrol and electric modes alone, as well as a combination of both, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid delivers impressive, seamless acceleration and remarkably quiet operation, while returning unparalleled fuel efficiency and the lowest possible emissions.

The new Toyota PHEV automatically operates in full hybrid mode once the extended EV range has been expended. This removes the range anxiety which has come to typify the driving of fully electric vehicles. Moreover, the unique characteristics of Toyota's full hybrid powertrain require no change in driving style or behaviour.

Performance - unparalleled fuel efficiency and emissions

The Hybrid Synergy Drive® powertrain generates a total system power output of 136 DIN hp and allows the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid to accelerate seamlessly from 0-100 km/h in 11.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 180 km/h.

Conversely, with the new Toyota PHEV's overall fuel efficiency significantly enhanced by its extended EV range, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid returns a remarkably low fuel consumption figure of only 2.1 l/100 km in the European homologation combined cycle - an increase in fuel efficiency of over 45% compared to the regular Prius.

Commensurately, CO2 emissions have also fallen to just 49 g/km. In addition, the new PHEV generates significantly lower NOX and particulate emissions than diesel engined cars of comparable performance.

Moreover, when operating in its extended EV mode, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid generates zero CO2, NOX and particulate emissions, driving with city-crossing capability for up to 25 kilometres at speeds of up to 85 km/h, dependant on battery charge and driving conditions.

Though its extended EV range plays a significant part in lowering the new Toyota PHEV's combined cycle fuel economy and emissions, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid remains remarkably efficient when operating purely in full hybrid drive mode.

After the EV range has been expended, the HSD system still returns fuel consumption of only 3.7 l/100 km, and generates class-leading CO2 emissions of just 85 g/km. These figures are even lower than that of regular Prius, mainly due to the vehicle's new Lithium-ion battery, which can more efficiently recover energy under braking, recharging the battery more quickly and allowing owners to drive more often in EV mode.

In addition, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid has been fitted with the latest generation of low rolling resistance tyres.

Thanks to its highly efficient HSD powertrain, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid's environmental performance in hybrid mode is superior to rival plug-ins in range-extender mode.

Hybrid Synergy Drive® - PHEV system architecture

The new Toyota PHEV's series/parallel full hybrid system features a 1.8 litre VVT-i petrol engine, a powerful electric motor, a generator, a high performance Lithium-ion battery and a power control unit. A power split device employs a planetary gear set to combine and re-allocate power from the engine, electric motor and generator according to operational requirements.

Key to the successful installation of Hybrid Synergy Drive® within the Prius Plug-in Hybrid's front-engined platform, the electric motor, generator and power split device are all housed in one transmission casing the size of a conventional gearbox.

Unlike a conventional, belt-driven CVT transmission, HSD delivers driving torque through a power split device in the form of planetary gear set. The generator is connected to the sun gear. The engine is connected to the planetary pinion gear carrier. And the electric motor is connected to the outer, ring gear, itself directly connected to the differential, which drives the wheels. Hence, with power transmitted to it either from the engine, the electric motor, or a combination of the two, the rotational speed of the ring gear determines the speed of the vehicle.

System power is provided by a lightweight, highly compact, 4-cylinder, 1,798 cc, Atkinson cycle VVT-i petrol engine developing 99 DIN hp/73 kW at 5,200 rpm and 142 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, and a high performance, permanent magnet, synchronous 60 kW electric motor generating instant power from 0 rpm and a maximum 207 Nm of torque. The petrol engine and electric motor combine to give a total system power output of 136 DIN hp/100 kW.

Powered by the hybrid Lithium-ion battery, the electric motor works in tandem with the petrol engine to boost acceleration during normal driving. Power allocation is constantly adjusted between engine and electric motor to combine optimum performance with maximum fuel efficiency.

The electric motor alone powers the driven wheels when the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is operating in expanded EV mode. An EV range of up to 25 km is dictated by battery charge and driving conditions. However, once the EV battery charge has been exhausted, the Toyota PHEV automatically operates as a full hybrid until recharged from an external power supply, thus eradicating the limited range constraints of a conventional electric vehicle.

Maximising the Hybrid Synergy Drive® system's efficiency, and regardless of the driving mode selected, the electric motor also acts as a high-output generator during deceleration and under braking, to effect regenerative braking. Normally wasted as heat, kinetic energy is recovered as electrical energy for storage in the high performance Lithium-ion battery.

New Compact, Lightweight and High-capacity Lithium-ion battery

Fundamental to the successful commercial application of PHEV technology, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid features a newly developed Lithium-ion battery pack.

Lithium-ion batteries have been selected because they have ideal characteristics for use in a PHEV. They have a superior volume energy density and are very compact, offering a larger EV driving range with little adverse weight or packaging issues. They can be recharged quickly and can effectively recover energy under braking, improving HSD system efficiency.

As a result of Toyota's and its partners' continuous effort for improvement, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid's Lithium-ion battery pack has a 4.4 kWh capacity -almost four times that of the latest generation Prius- and its SOC (State of Charge) for use has been enhanced to approximately 60%.To manage the increase in voltage output of the new battery, the Hybrid Synergy Drive® system's revised Power Control Unit (PCU) features a new voltage boost converter with even greater durability.

Despite this increase in power output, significant changes to the 288 cell battery pack used in prototype versions of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid have allowed for the new Lithium-ion pack's installation with no impact on rear passenger seat accommodation or luggage space, which are now almost identical to that of the standard Prius.

The capacity of each battery cell has been enlarged four-fold over those of the prototype vehicles, and the new battery is now a 56 cell, one pack structure comprising a stack of four, 14 cell, series-connected batteries.

In conjunction with the adoption of a new aluminium frame structure, these revisions have reduced the volume of the battery pack from 201.7 to just 87.2 litres and halved its weight from 160 to only 80 kg. As a result, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid weighs only 55 kg more than a standard Prius.

Rapid, Convenient Battery Recharging System

Via a battery charger inlet conveniently located beneath a discreet, flush-mounted panel in the opposite rear wing to the Toyota PHEV's fuel filler cap, the battery pack can be fully recharged in 1.5 hours from a standard, 230V household outlet.

Operating with a charging efficiency of some 84% when allied to a 230V power source, the battery charger itself is positioned under the hybrid battery, converting AC electricity to DC current to charge the Lithium-ion battery pack.

Several improvements have been made to the robust, highly efficient charging system fitted to the prototype versions of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. And a battery charger timer function has been added, allowing users to set both the start and end time of battery charging.

A CCID (Charging Circuit Interrupter Device) is installed inside the battery charger cable to automatically block the supply of AC current in the case of electrical leakage during charging. The CCID main body size has been reduced compared to that of the prototype vehicle, and the power plug can now be removed and replaced to enhance usability.

Battery charger cable flexibility has been improved for easier handling during cold weather, and users can choose between a cable length of 5 or 10 meters. A range of replaceable power plugs is available for compatibility with the diverse outlet shapes of various countries and regions. And a new cable has been developed for compatibility with the Mennekes-type charging station expected to represent the mainstream charging infrastructure in Europe. The cable is stored in a dedicated compartment under the loadspace floor.

The battery charger connector has also been modified from the prototype model to improve ease of use. Finished in blue, the main body of the connector now has a scratch resistant surface finish. A freeze-proof lock release button shape has been adopted, and the button has been chrome-plated to suppress corrosion. A padlock-type cable lock may now also be fitted to the lock release button for improved security.

The battery charger inlet itself has also been revised to improve operability. The inner and outer lids of the inlet have been integrated to simplify the opening and connection process. An LED lamp fitted inside the lid illuminates the charger inlet connector, and a battery charger lamp beside the connector indicates battery charging status.

A Unique Driving Experience

The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers drivers a unique, truly 21st century driving experience. It combines seamless acceleration and remarkably quiet operation over an extended EV range with unparalleled fuel efficiency and the lowest possible emissions.

The unique characteristics of Toyota's full hybrid powertrain require no change in driving style or behaviour, yet can help users maximise the benefits of Hybrid Synergy Drive® through numerous, PHEV-specific, driving support monitors.

Moreover, the new Toyota PHEV's capacity for long range driving in full hybrid mode once the extended EV range has been expended totally removes the range anxiety which has come to typify the driving of fully electric vehicles to date.

Enhanced Eco Driving Experience

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid offers the driver three switchable, 'on-demand' drive modes - the default setting EV, HV and EV-City.

With EV mode selected, the Toyota 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 25 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 HV mode selected, the 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-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, allowing users to enter Zero Emission inner city zones.

Switched separately, ECO mode may be independently activated when the Toyota 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.

PHEV-specific Driving Support Monitors

Complimenting these three drive modes, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid features comprehensive Eco driving support for those who wish to adopt more environmentally-friendly driving techniques.

As in the Prius, the new Toyota PHEV is equipped with an Eco Drive Support Monitor. Various PHEV-specific functions allow customers to maximise the benefits of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid's extended EV driving range.

The Hybrid System Indicator bar graphic now shows the point at which the engine will start under acceleration, allowing the driver to moderate throttle inputs and maximise the use of the EV and EV-City modes.

The Energy Monitor, displaying the engine operating conditions and the flow of electric power, incorporates plug-in connection status and remaining charge time displays. If the ignition is turned on whilst the vehicle is being charged externally, the connection status will appear, along with the approximate charging time required to fully recharge the battery, round up to the nearest 0.1 hour unit.

A Toyota first, users may also set start and finish battery charging times, with both displayed on the Eco Drive Support Monitor.

Both the Hybrid System Indicator and the Energy Monitor feature an EV driving range display adjacent to the battery SOC (State of Charge) level indicator, showing how far the PHEV can travel under electric motor power alone with the remaining battery charge, rounded up to the nearest 0.1 km.

The battery SOC display itself adopts two different display methods to differentiate between HV and EV modes using charged electricity only. When the EV mode battery charge falls below a certain level, the SOC display will automatically change, with the HSD system, to HV mode. Conversely, when battery power is increased through regenerative braking, the display will revert to the former as the EV driving mode is automatically restored.

In addition, an EV Driving Ratio indicator shows how much of the total distance driven so far has been under electric motor power alone. This function also includes consumed power and fuel displays, and a display indicating how much fuel consumption is reduced by driving using externally charged electricity only.

The trip fuel consumption record display has been changed to a bar graph, monthly average fuel consumption display, and a calendar function has been added to the system.

Finally, a Plug-in Effect forest display has been added to visualise the benefits of external charging. The system converts the amount of externally charged electricity into that of reduced CO2 and, for every 10 kg reduction, one tree is planted in the forest to show the driver's contribution to environmental preservation. As the number of trees increases, flowers and animals are also added to the display.

In combination, this expanded range of Eco Drive Support Monitor functions helps drivers to develop relaxed, fuel efficient driving techniques and maximise both EV driving and overall hybrid system efficiency.

Suspension and Steering Revisions

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid shares the proven MacPherson front and torsion beam rear suspension of the standard Prius. However, both systems have been optimised for the specific weight distribution of the new Toyota PHEV, maximising both ride comfort and handling stability.

Both front and rear shock absorber damping force has been changed from that of the standard Prius, and the front suspension upper support rubber characteristics have also been changed to further improve the vehicle's excellent Noise and Vibration performance.

The control map of the Electric Power Steering (EPS) has also been revised in recognition of the nominal effect the Plug-in Hybrid's specific weight distribution has on the vehicles driving dynamics.

High Technology Equipment

As with every vehicle in the new Prius family, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid is a front-runner in the field of cutting-edge technological innovation.

Its comprehensive standard equipment specification includes a highly fuel-efficient Remote Climate Control System, steering-wheel mounted Touch Tracer control switches, a smart entry system and Toyota Touch - the world's most affordable touch screen multimedia interface.

Just as in the Prius, customers are offered a range of advanced convenience and safety features to choose from. Options include a Pre-Crash Safety system incorporating Adaptive Cruise Control, Intelligent Parking Assist, Toyota Touch & Go Plus and Toyota Touch Pro navigation systems, and a JBL Matrix Premium Sound System featuring GreenEdge technology.

Remote Climate Control System

Making full use of a PHEV design that accesses electricity from an external power source, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid features a unique, Remote Climate Control System.

The air conditioning system uses an electric inverter compressor, allowing the air conditioning to be activated without depending on the engine.

This is a pre-air conditioning system, capable of cooling the vehicle interior both when the PHEV is plugged in and using the HV battery alone as a power source. Operated by a Remote A/C switch on the vehicle key fob, the system will run for a maximum of 10 minutes, offering occupants a comfortable cabin temperature from the moment they get into the vehicle.

By pre-cooling the cabin, the system also improves the efficiency of Hybrid Synergy Drive® by minimising air conditioner energy consumption during vehicle start up, further lowering fuel consumption.

In the absence of a heat pump, the system uses exhaust heat as a cabin heating source. In ECO mode, the system suppresses heater performance to minimise engine running time and, hence, fuel consumption. However, it compensates for this by automatically activating the front seat heaters to warm cabin occupants as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Head-up Display and Touch Tracer

A Head-up Display projects useful information onto the base of the windscreen, including vehicle speed, the Eco Drive Monitor and the status of the optional Pre-Crash Safety and Active Cruise Control systems.

A steering-wheel mounted Touch Tracer display switch allows the driver to control the audio system, the air-conditioning and the ECO Drive Monitor without the need to look down, or remove his or her hands from the wheel.

New Driving Support Features

Driving support functions now include an EV indicator lamp and two new functions: A Monthly Fuel Consumption Record shows the average fuel consumption of both the current and 5 previous months.

Advanced Pre-Crash Safety System with Adaptive Cruise Control

An Advanced Pre-Crash Safety (PCS) system employs a millimetre wave radar sensor to scan the road ahead, recognising potentially dangerous objects and assisting the driver in reducing the chances of a collision.

If there is a high possibility of a collision, PCS will alert the driver and, when he begins to brake, provide braking assistance to supplement his own braking effort, simultaneously activating the seatbelt pre-tensioners. If the driver does not brake and a collision is inevitable, the system will automatically apply the brakes to reduce impact speed.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) works in tandem with the PCS system. ACC will automatically maintain a selected distance from the vehicle in front. Once the road ahead is clear, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid automatically returns to its original cruising speed.

Intelligent Parking Assist

The new Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid's Intelligent Parking Assist system has been improved to allow even more efficient and faster parking manoeuvres. It is now able to recognize parking spaces even when there are no parking bay lines. In addition, monitor displays will guide the driver to the necessary starting point for the system to be activated when space sufficient for parking is detected.

Toyota Touch

Fitted as standard in the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Toyota Touch is a 6.1 inch, full colour, touch-screen interface which represents a new approach to affordable, on-board multimedia systems.

It incorporates AM/FM radio with enhanced FM reception through the use of two tuners, 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. Both the hybrid drive system Energy Monitor and fuel consumption information can be displayed, and 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 which includes all the most popular navigation functions, such as advanced traffic coverage, customisable speed limits, speed camera warnings, 3D city models and landmarks.

Using a compatible mobile phone, via Bluetooth, the system offers on-board connectivity to Google Local Search - the largest and most up-to-date search database in the world. Via Google Maps, destinations may be input remotely from home or office, and Points of Interest may be downloaded for entry as destinations.

Equipped with voice recognition, which includes a 'text-to-speech' message readout facility, Toyota Touch & Go Plus expands the functionality of the navigation and audio systems. It allows the driver to input a full destination, make a phone call, or to pick a specific song from a connected iPod with a single voice command.

The system will also display SMS text messages, emails and calendars depending on Bluetooth mobile phone compatibility.

Toyota Touch & Go Plus has been designed specifically to be both flexible and affordable. The system can be up-dated with the newest functions, as they become available. Available from launch, a Touch & Go Plus Apps function will provide fuel price, weather and parking space information. Thereafter, new App options will be rolled out, accessible via a web portal.

Toyota Touch Pro

The premium quality Toyota Touch Pro 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.

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 supplementary driver's navigational guidance in the Head-up Display.

The system also provides access to SMS messages and emails, and includes a 'text-to-speech' message readout facility. An HSD system Energy Monitor, fuel consumption information and a rear camera with dynamic guidance lines to help manoeuvring in confined spaces are 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

Both Toyota Touch & Go Plus and Toyota Touch Pro may be equipped with an 8-speaker JBL Premium Sound System which features GreenEdge technology. GreenEdge technologies are engineered holistically to ensure that the speakers, amplifier, equalization and even component placement work together as a cohesive and efficient system, combining low electricity consumption with high sound quality.

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 drawn from the vehicle's alternator.

High-efficiency JBL GreenEdge speakers generate twice the sound output levels of conventional speakers for the same power consumption. They feature custom designed acoustic lenses to spread a more powerful sound across an even wider frequency range.

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