Waiting for Toyota to further expand the Prius family? A subcompact spin-off is still a ways away, but the automaker did announce the Prius Plug-In Hybrid will officially debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
If that vehicle sounds familiar, it’s likely because you’ve seen it teased before your eyes over the past few years. Toyota first unwrapped the Prius PHEV as a concept at the 2009 Frankfurt show. Since then, the company has doled out small numbers of prototypes to fleets around the world, all in an attempt to gain feedback on how the system performs in real-world scenarios.
We’re still some time away from seeing finalized figures for the U.S.-spec car, but expect the PHEV model to bolster the Prius’ fuel economy figures. Presently, the Prius achieves a combined 50 mpg under EPA testing, which is good enough to gain it top honors for hybrids, but a little behind the latest batch of PHEV wunderkinds (namely the Chevrolet Volt).
According to Toyota, the new plug-in Prius will achieve 106.9 mpg on the European combined test cycle. Impressive, but we’re still waiting to see figures for U.S.-spec cars undergoing the EPA’s full battery of evaluations. During press testing, PHEV prototypes have returned combined averages ranging from 70 to 100 mpg, depending on the user’s drive and charging cycles.
Prius Plug-in models use largely the same powertrain as their non-PHEV siblings, but the original nickel-metal hydride battery pack is replaced by with a more powerful Lithium-Ion unit. This revision potentially allow the Prius to travel 12 miles on electric power alone, and charge in about 90 minutes when using a 240-volt charger.
Though the Prius PHEV debuts in Europe this September, Toyota is still sticking to its original timetable for importing the car to the U.S. As a result, expect to see early production examples reaching U.S. dealers sometime in Spring 2012.