Plugging In When You Get Home
At the EVS23 Electric Vehicle show in Anaheim, California (December 3-5, 2007) Toyota had on display their Toyota PHEV Prius Plug-In. The concept is that you plug the Prius in at night so that when you start your journey in the morning, the car has a full battery charge before the petrol (gasoline) engine starts running. On short commutes of 4-5 miles, it would be possible to drive without burning any fuel and hence produce zero emissions of C02. Upon returning home, you could recharge using 110/220 V plug-in power.
The PHEV (Plug In Hybrid) concept car is undergoing testing at Toyota's Hybrid Vehicle System Engineering Development Division in Japan. Toyota is currently testing the Plug-In Prius using two 2007 current model Prius nickel metal hydride battery packs in combination. This battery configuration takes up a bit more space from the rear storage compartment, and it can be charged overnight in 3-4 hours. Their next generation battery pack for the PHEV Prius will probably be a Lithium Ion type, which will provide the additional energy in a size similar to the current 2007 Prius model.
The PHEV Prius has a higher output 50kw motor that allows it to reach a top speed of 100 kph (62mph) all on electric power, against the current maximum speed of 40 kph (25mph) in the 2007 model Prius. On short commutes, the development PHEV Prius regularly travels on 4-5 mile (6-8 km) return trips without the gasoline (petrol) engine ever starting. Once Toyota is satisfied with the quality of the development work for the vehicle, they could offer an early release production PHEV Prius model with nickel metal hydride batteries (NiMH) as early as mid 2008 to try to be first to market with this new technology. (Update: Toyota announced at the end of 2007, that they expect to offer the PHEV Prius plug-in model with lithium ion batteries for the 2010 model year).