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2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Unveiled

Toyota introduced the final production model of the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid this week in California at the Green Drive Expo. Information about the Prius Plug-in has been out for some time, and the final model was introduced after Toyota conducted a test fleet program with prototypes of the car. Participants gave the automaker feedback about the Prius Plug-in, and Toyota used the test drives to help finalize the production model.

Toyota says in a statement that the Prius Plug-in can travel on electric-only power for up to 15 miles at speeds up to 62 mph. Similar to the regular Prius, the battery is charged using the car’s regenerative brakes, but the Prius Plug-in’s battery can also be charged by plugging the car into a standard electric outlet. Toyota says that it takes approximately three hours to fully charge the Prius Plug-in’s battery on a standard 120 volt outlet, though charging time can be cut in half with an optional 240 volt charging station.

Other than its plug-in recharging ability, “the plug-in is basically a Prius sporting a bigger, pricier lithium-ion battery pack with a capacity of 4.4 kWh,” says Car and Driver. “Contrast that to the standard Prius’s nickel-metal hydride pack, which can hold 1.3 kWh.”

According to Toyota, the Prius Plug-in is expected to get 49 mpg in hybrid mode and 87 mpg-e (miles per gallon equivalent) running solely on electricity. The government has not yet performed fuel economy tests on the Prius Plug-in. The Prius Plug-in’s most direct competitor, the Chevrolet Volt, is EPA-rated for 37 combined mpg in hybrid mode, and 94 mpg-e in electric-only mode.

Toyota is already taking orders for the 2012 Prius Plug-in in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Buyers will take delivery in March 2012. The Prius Plug-in starts at $32,000.

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