Toyota’s Prius Plug-In Hybrid is still several months away from actually launching joining the automaker’s lineup, but the folks at Consumer Search allegedly learned two interesting modifications that have been implemented over the past few months and will appear in production vehicles.
When we drove a Prius Plug-In Hybrid earlier this year, we noticed the EV-only mode button normally found on the Prius had vanished — no surprise, considering if the vehicle had been charged from an outside source, it would attempt to function under electric power only (hard launches, however, would frequently wake the engine from its slumber). However, Consumer Source says production vehicles will allow drivers to exert a little more control in the matter.
The button will likely return, but in this instance, it could allow drivers to reserve their capacity to function as a pure EV for a later time. This is ideal for those whose commutes consist of long stretches on the freeway before entering an EV-friendly city, but it’s likely more important in Europe, where users may wish to reserve their EV operation for roads or areas that tax or prohibit access to non-electric vehicles. Unlike the Prius, Prius PHEV models will still revert to EV mode upon startup, assuming the battery has sufficient charge.
Another annoyance with the PHEV prototype was that apart from plugging the car in, there was no way to fully recharge the battery pack. While conventional Prius models allow users to almost completely top off the battery by means of motor-driven charging at speed or regenerative braking, the Prius PHEV would only allow such activity to recharge the battery up to roughly 60 percent of its capacity, and preventing access to pure EV operation. Once again, CS claims this won’t be the case with the finished product.
Toyota, however, talks a little different tale. While the automaker tells us the driver-controlled EV mode is “something [it] is exploring for the production model,” it’s remaining rather tight-lipped on the issue of the battery. Toyota reps did reconfirm that the prototype wasn’t capable from recharging its lithium ion packs from braking alone, it neither confirmed nor denied the production model would be able to function in a different manner. Time will tell, but we think these two tweaks would go a long way in improving driver satisfaction with the finished product.
Source: Consumer Search, Toyota