Plug-in Prius to Go Mass Market in 2011


Good news for Prius groupies: The plug-in hybrid version of the best-selling vehicle will be rolled out en masse in 2011, with tens of thousands of plug-in Priuses set to hit the road. 500 lucky customers in Japan, the U.S., and Europe will have a chance to lease the vehicle as part of a test run later this month as well.

Here’s what we know so far: the plug-in Prius uses a lithium-ion battery (like most plug-ins), gets 14.5 miles on pure electric power before switching to hybrid mode, charges in 100 minutes, has an overall mileage of 134 mpg (that’s debatable), and will be “affordable”. We’re not entirely sure what “affordable” entails, but consider that a regular Prius retails at $22,400 and up.

Toyota will have plenty of competition in the plug-in hybrid arena by the time the newest Prius is released. GM plans to massively roll out the Volt in late 2010, and Nissan hopes to have its own affordable offering–the Leaf–ready to go by next year. Still, the Prius will undoubtedly have a leg up because of its brand recognition and long-standing status as the best-selling hybrid in the U.S.

The plug-in Prius won’t be Toyota’s sole electric offering for long. The company plans on unveiling an all-electric urban commuter vehicle sometime in 2012.

[Via The New York Times]AS