TOYOTA PRIUS PLUG-IN HYBRID
The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid combines all the principal attributes of the new, fourth-generation Prius with a class-leading all-electric EV driving range.
Toyota was first to bring the concept of the Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) to the market with the original Prius Plug-in launched in 2012 and is now taking a further step towards its goal of reducing its whole fleet CO2 emissions by 90 percent by 2050 (from their 2010 level) through the use of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric vehicle and fuel cell vehicle technologies.
Its technological breakthroughs include two world firsts: an EV range-extending solar roof and gas-injection heat pump air conditioning. There are two Toyota firsts as well: a Battery Warming System and a Dual Motor EV drive system.
STATE-OF-THE-ART PHV TECHNOLOGY, DOUBLE THE EV DRIVING RANGE
The new Prius Plug-in Hybrid effectively offers customers two cars in one, with an even more sophisticated full hybrid powertrain and an all-electric EV driving capability that provides more than double the range of the previous model.
The increase in EV driving range from 15 to more than 30 miles and the car’s maximum speed in EV mode has been increased from 53 to 84mph. This has been achieved through
technological improvements in three key areas: battery development, maximisation of EV driving performance; and an overall vehicle package that is significantly more efficient.
The large-capacity lithium-ion battery, located under the rear load space, is fundamental to new Prius Plug-in’s increased EV driving range. Its capacity has been doubled from 4.4 to 8.8kW/h, yet its volume has only increased by two-thirds – from 87 to 145 litres. Weighing 120kg, it is only 50 percent heavier than its predecessor.
Dual Motor Drive System
Prius Plug-in is equipped with Toyota’s first hybrid powertrain to feature a Dual Motor Drive System, allowing EV power to be increased by around 83 per cent. A highly compact, one-way gear within the transaxle allows the hybrid system generator to act as a second electric motor. This boosts EV driving power, giving better acceleration, more engaging performance and a maximum EV speed of 84mph. It also means there is less frequent start-up of the engine.
Gas-injection heat pump air conditioning
A new gas-injection heat pump powers the air conditioning, a world-first technology that contributes to Prius Plug-in’s greater efficiency. It can heat the cabin without starting the engine, even when outside temperatures are at -10°C, minimising the impact on fuel consumption and EV driving range. The system is far more efficient than engine heating or high-power electric heaters. The pump can warm the car’s interior using heat absorbed from the air outside the vehicle. The gas-injection system, mounted on the heat pump, ensure heating performance is not compromised when outside temperatures are low.
Battery warming system
During charging, a new battery warming system will bring the cells up to an efficient working temperature, even when external temperatures drop as low as -20°C. This ensures battery power and efficiency are maintained at a sufficient level to minimise the impact of cold weather on the EV driving range, with full power available from start-off.
Faster battery charging
The increase in maximum power from 2.0 to 3.3kW means the battery can be fully charged up to 65 percent more quickly – in two hours when using the Type II Mode III Mennekes connector, or three hours 10 minutes using a standard household plug socket.
REWARDING DRIVING EXPERIENCE
Prius Plug-in’s TNGA platform plays a defining role in generating a rewarding driving experience, giving the car a lower centre of gravity, a more engaging driving position and more precise and responsive handling, with less body roll.
These qualities are supported by a body that is 60 percent more rigid than the previous model. This is thanks to extensive use of high-strength steels and structural adhesives; a stiffer connection between the cowl panel and front pillars; additional reinforcement to the centre pillars’ lower structure and the panel connection; three-way reinforcement of the rear floor cross-member; and the use of continuous flanges to increase the strength of joints between various structural elements.
As a result, better handling can be gained directly from the quality of the chassis and body, without having to use firmer suspension settings or compromising ride quality and comfort.
PHV-specific suspension settings
The quality of Prius Plug-in’s driving dynamics is also supported by specific settings for the front MacPherson strut and new double wishbone rear suspension.
The front coil spring rates have been optimised for supple, high-quality ride comfort. The front shock absorbers have also been adjusted to provide greater damping force at low and very low speeds, and less at mid to high speeds, combining excellent ride quality with improved handling stability.
The front anti-roll bar has been made thicker than that in the fourth generation Prius, contributing to handling stability with a 13 percent reduction in roll rate.
The new, trailing arm-type double wishbone rear suspension produces one-third the level of shock when driving on uneven roads, compared to the previous Prius Plug-in. It has the same PHV-specific features as the front suspension, again combining high-quality ride characteristics with handling stability.
Enhanced EV driving experience
The new chassis’s improved dynamic characteristics are matched by the more responsive character of the new plug-in hybrid system. The 83 percent boost in EV power gained from the Dual Motor Drive System provides highly responsive acceleration when driving in all-electric EV mode.
Increased range aside, the Toyota engineers’ main goal was a substantial improvement in the EV driving experience. This involved enhancing those characteristics that only EV drive can provide: the direct feeling of drive from motor to wheel, a broad spread of torque with linear axle response and the feeling of endless acceleration.
The full hybrid drive system’s new transaxle is combined with a new, highly efficient Power Control Unit to achieve exceptional overall operating efficiency.
The full hybrid powertrain has a total power output of 120bhp/90kW and can achieve nought to 62mph acceleration in 11.1 seconds. Top speed is 101mph. Conversely official combined cycle fuel consumption* is from 283mpg (1.0l/100km) with 22g/km CO2 emissions. * According to tyre choice.
Four powertrain modes, three driving modes
The driver can select four different powertrain modes to control how Prius Plug-in’s seamless, electric continuously variable transmission delivers power: HV mode, EV mode, EV City and a new Battery Charge mode.
HV mode efficiently combines the power delivered by the engine and electric motors allowing the car to operate as a full hybrid. The new Battery Charge mode, activated by pressing holding the HV/EV mode switch, uses the engine to generate electricity to charge the battery while driving in HV mode.
EV mode primarily uses electric power from the HV battery to drive the vehicle; the engine is only started when the throttle is wide open, or at high vehicle speeds. It incorporates a switchable EV City mode, which reduces maximum power output; the engine is only started when throttle kick-down is engaged, allowing the car to run on electric power alone, for as long as possible.
Three on-demand drive modes, Normal, Power and Eco, are available while Prius Plug-in is operating in HV, EV or EV City modes, to further improve efficiency, performance and fuel economy. These drive modes also incorporate comprehensive eco-driving support for drivers who want to develop more environmentally considerate techniques.
From start-up and at lower speeds with Normal drive mode selected, the car will automatically run in EV mode, using electric motor power alone to provide instant power and a very smooth, quiet ride with minimal noise and vibration. Thereafter, the full hybrid drive system automatically combines power from the engine and electric motor, or engages the electric motor alone, according to driving conditions.
Power mode gives a higher throttle response to accelerator pedal inputs, boosting power to improve acceleration and increase driving pleasure. Once in Power mode the car also engages a new DMD (Driver’s Mind Logic) drive assist system to provide more responsive performance. DMD uses a Driver Monitoring Index (DMI) system which continuously monitors vehicle G-forces to understand driver behaviour and habits. Thus it will recognise a desire for sportier performance, adjusting engine braking and throttle response accordingly.
In Eco mode, the throttle response to aggressive use of the accelerator pedal is reduced and air conditioning control is adjusted to support better fuel economy. Depending on driving conditions, Eco mode can help drivers achieve a reduction in fuel consumption.
Even quieter than a Prius
A particular focus was placed on minimising noise and vibration, complementing the innate quietness of driving in EV mode.
Strategic use of materials to suppress and absorb sound at the source noise has helped achieve exceptional cabin quietness, quieter even than the levels in the fourth generation Prius.
Measures specific to Prius Plug-in include bonnet side seals to reduce engine noise under acceleration and urethane wing separators that reduce the amount of noise reaching the cabin from the engine compartment. There is also acoustic glass in the front doors and inner silencers have been added to the rear wheel housings.
Cabin quietness and comfort have been further enhanced by the use of a urethane-based headlining, a larger floor silencer and high sound-absorbing materials in the front pillars, deck side and back door trim.
STRIKING, STAND-ALONE AERODYNAMIC STYLING
Prius Plug-in’s striking, highly aerodynamic design builds on the classic Prius profile with dedicated styling elements that evoke the car’s advanced technologies.
The car is 165mm longer (at 4,645mm), 15mm wider (1,760mm) and 20mm lower (1,470mm) than the original model, and has longer front and rear overhangs (+25 and +80mm respectively) than the current, fourth-generation Prius. The frontal design makes it immediately recognisable from the standard Prius, with a strong, three-dimensional acrylic treatment of the grille and thin, ultra-compact, four-LED headlamp units.
The strong forward projection of the grille is emphasised by highly aerodynamic sculpting of the sides of the bumper. The vertical arrangement of the daytime running lights and LED turn indicators at the extreme margins of the front wings reinforce the cars low, ground-hugging stance.
In profile, the Prius Plug-in is distinguished by its longer rear overhang, lower cowl and rear spoiler heights and model-specific, two-tone 15-inch alloy wheels, designed to provide extra brake cooling.
At the rear, the cross-sectional shape of the “double-bubble” rear screen is carried into the curve of the rear spoiler. LED rear light clusters are integrated into the extremities of the spoiler and are another feature unique to the plug-in version of Prius.
A comprehensive aerodynamic package is key to achieving a remarkably low, 0.25 drag coefficient, which contributes to the car’s low fuel consumption. Prius Plug-in builds on the aerodynamics of the standard Prius with a lower roof and rear spoiler height, an enlarged area of body undercovers, front and rear bumper corners shaped to rectify airflow, the double-bubble screen and aero-stabilising fins built into the rear combination lamps.
A shutter built into the lower front grille automatically opens and closes to optimise the flow of cooling air into the engine bay, reducing air resistance. When the engine is cold, the shutter is closed to suppress cooling airflow and reduce the time it takes for the engine to warm up, supporting lower fuel consumption.
The new Prius Plug-in is available in seven body colours, including an exclusive shade, Spirited Aqua metallic.
The new Prius Plug-in shares the same dashboard design as the fourth generation Prius: a clear, structural arrangement that layers the driver’s information sources with due priority to the most important displays.
It is equipped with large, eight-inch infotainment screen with updated graphics and dual 4.2-inch TFT screens with PHV-specific displays. The white base of the shift panel in the centre console is finished with a satin chrome trim.
The front seat design is shared with Prius, too, designed to provide superior comfort and to combat driver fatigue on long journeys. The rear of the cabin features with two seats separated by a central console, offering maximised occupant space.
The luggage deck has been raised by 160mm to accommodate the larger hybrid battery, giving maximum loadspace volume of 360 litres.
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY FOR GREATER EFFICIENCY
The new Prius Plug-in features advanced technologies that improve powertrain efficiency, promote environmental consideration and raise safety levels.
Developing a technology first seen on the Auris HSD concept in 2010, the roof can be fitted with a large solar panel to generate electricity to charge the hybrid battery. When the vehicle is parked (but not plugged into a charging socket), the solar roof charges an intermediate solar battery. When this is fully charged, it will deliver a pumping charge to the main hybrid battery.
When the car is being driven, the solar charging system charges the 12-volt auxiliary battery, thus reducing consumption of the hybrid battery’s energy and potentially contributing to a two to three percent increase in hybrid system efficiency.
Depending on weather conditions, solar charging has the potential to increase Prius Plugin’s EV driving range by up to three miles a day, or around 400 miles a year in UK city traffic. The solar roof is available as an option on the Prius Plug-in Business Edition Plus model.
The car’s driving modes now include a Battery Charge Mode which uses the engine as a source of electricity generation to charge the battery when the vehicle is being driven in HV mode.
The new, dual-zone, gas-injection heat pump air conditioning system is equipped with S-flow control, which automatically adjusts cabin air vent operation in relation to which passenger seats are occupied, maintaining comfort while reducing power consumption.
The LED headlights feature new Adaptive Headlamp System (AHS) technology. This automatically shades areas of the light beam to prevent dazzling of drivers ahead and oncoming traffic, so maximising high-beam operation for the best possible illumination. The system adjusts the width of high-beam projection according to vehicle speed; from widest between nine and 25mph to narrowest at speeds above 50mph. AHS also incorporates a cornering lamp function to improve visibility through bends.
The new Prius Plug-in is the world’s first mass-production car to be fitted with a CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) tailgate. This further reduces the vehicle’s overall weight, thus contributing to its fuel efficiency.
Other technology features available for Prius Plug-in include a wireless phone charging tray, a large, colour head-up display, a Simple Intelligent Parking Assist system and an enhanced
Toyota Safety Sense package with Pre-Collision Safety with a pedestrian recognition function and all-speed Adaptive Cruise Control, capable of slowing the car to a halt if necessary.
UK MODEL RANGE AND PRICING
The new Prius Plug-in will be available in the UK in two specifications – Business Edition Plus and Excel.
Toyota Safety Sense will be standard on both versions, including the Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection, Lane Departure Alert with steering control, Adaptive Cruise Control and Road Sign Assist. Additional safety features include a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Comfort and convenience items include dual-zone automatic air conditioning, rear passenger footwell heating and Smart Entry and Start.
The Business Edition Plus specification includes the Toyota Touch 2 with Go touchscreen multimedia and navigation system, heated, auto-dimming door mirrors with an automatic retracting function, rear view camera, dusk-sensing LED headlights, colour head-up display, Bluetooth, six-speaker audio with DAB reception and heated front seats. The solar roof system can be specified as an option for the Business Edition Plus model.
Excel models extend the specification with rain-sensing wipers, Simple Intelligent Park Assist and front and rear parking sensors, a 10-speaker JBL premium audio system, voice recognition control for the Toyota Touch 2 multimedia and navigation system and leather upholstery.
Pricing and Warranty
The new Prius Plug-in has on-the-road prices of £34,895 for the Business Edition Plus model (£36,395 with the solar roof option) and £37,095 for the Excel. Customers buying a new Prius Plug-in can take advantage of the UK Government’s plug-in car grant, which provides £2,500 towards the vehicle purchase cost.
In common with all new Toyota vehicles, Prius Plug-in is protected by a five-year/100,000 mile warranty.