The big news is Toyota's plan to offer a plug-in version of the current Prius. This model is expected to sell for just $3,000-5,000 more than the current version. This is nearly $10,000 less than the Chevy Volt yet should be eligible for the same tax credits. However, all-electric range will be thirteen miles, far less than the Volt's forty mile range. Toyota plans on selling about 20,000 of these plug-in cars per year in North America.
There is currently a test fleet of these vehicles being operated in America. Early drivers have said the driving experience is nearly indistinguishable from the regular Prius. The only indications of the electric mode is the "EV" indicator on the dash display and improved gas mileage. The additional battery pack adds 220lbs to the weight of the vehicle and raises the trunk floor two inches. Charging through a household 110v outlet takes just three hours.
Toyota Electric Cars: RAV-4 EV and FT-EV City Car
Last year Toyota announced the FT-EV, a small city car based on the iQ with a range of about fifty miles. While there are plans to bring the iQ to America as a Scion it is unclear whether or not the FT-EV will reach our shores. However, we will be getting a new RAV4 EV co-developed by Toyota and Tesla Motors.
This is not the first time the crossover has been offered with electric power. The original RAV4 EV, put in production back in 1997, had a 27.4 kWh battery pack with a range of around eighty miles. The new EV is expected to match or exceed the Tesla Roadster's 56 kWh battery capacity and two hundred mile range.
Production for this vehicle will probably take place at California's NUMMI plant. This plant was once run as a partnership between Toyota and GM, most recently manufacturing the Matrix and Pontiac Vibe. GM backed out of the partnership when they went into bankruptcy and the plant was closed.
This new electric vehicle was debuted at the L.A. Auto Show last November and information about range and cost should be announced. Production will start in 2012.