Monday, September 19, 2011

Toyota Prius Buying Advice Hybrid

Toyota has begun its limited feedback-harvesting lease program for the plug-in version of the Prius hybrid. We drove a representative prototype at Toyota's proving grounds in Japan. Some 150 will hit U.S. roads from this month, prior to it going on general sale in 2011 -- around the same time, of course, as the Chevy Volt.
One of the fascinating things about the eco-car revolution now upon us is the differences between competing technologies. So Toyota's conception of a plug-in gas car is a rather different proposition to GM's.
Toyota's is basically a Prius, but with a higher-capacity battery than the normal hybrid. You plug it in to an electrical outlet and, fully charged, it will go in electric mode for about 12 miles of gentle urban running. After that it switches back to the usual Prius hybrid powertrain where a blend of electric and gas power drives the wheels. The Volt, on the other hand, uses only its electric motor to drive the wheels, while the gas engine only supplies electricity to the motor after the battery is depleted.