The 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in has been approved for the State of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. CVRP is a $1,500 rebate or taxpayer subsidy administered by the California Air Resources Board This is in addition to the $2,500 Federal tax credit available to Prius buyers. The 2012 Prius Plug-in is also eligible for the State of California’s HOV lane sticker. All are controversial uses of taxpayer funds to subsidize wealthy buyers for a Japanese made car.
Prius Plug-in is Toyota’s first application using a lithium-ion battery pack, which it claims increases its overall fuel economy and has charging times of only 2.5 to 3 hours using a standard 120-volt outlet or 1.5 hours using 240v, which would cost at least $1,000 for a home installation.
The largest Japanese automaker, and hybrid technology leader, resisted using lithium ion batteries for years. However, political and marketing pressure, as well as government regulations favoring the controversial technology, has forced Toyota to embrace the plug-in concept, which is years or more from practical use unless you use the new “green math” to justify its steep price.
The new 4.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack (more than $4,000 at current production costs) replaces the standard Prius model’s nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery and fits under the rear cargo floor The plug-in adds an external charging cable.
The reason for the quick charge is the battery pack is tiny, almost laughably so. In EV Mode, the Prius Plug-in is rated by EPA to travel 11 miles. Toyota claims that the plug-in is capable of going up to 62 mph using electric power alone.
The Prius Plug-in is rated at 95MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). In hybrid mode, it has an EPA combined mileage rating of 50 mpg – the same as the Prius Liftback with its less NiMH battery pack – and a total driving range of 540 miles. The base MSRP for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is $32,760. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced has a sticker of $40,285 with delivery.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid is about to be available in the following 14 states: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. A national rollout of Prius Plug-in is planned for 2013.