For those of us paying close attention to the innovations in fuel efficient technology in the automotive space, we’ve seen the Prius continually trump the efforts of pretty much all the major automakers. After several years on the market, the Prius has earned all of its awards and media buzz by reporting a 51 miles per gallon fuel economy on its flagship eco-friendly car. While most of the major automakers have taken aim at providing the ultimate fuel efficiency and continually pushing emissions towards zero, Toyota still stands as the manufacturer that’s trumped the market.
But even an innovator has a bad year. The end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 have been rough periods for the Japanese manufacturer. Massive recalls have left an open wound on the face of the most talked about brand in recent years. Chicago Toyota Prius drivers are still in good shape, sporting the fuel efficiency that set the bar for the industry. But the rest of the brand is in a tough position, and it would take an announcement of serious caliber to help focus attention on the brand’s positive. Well, it seems that Toyota has come through with exactly that with the recent announcement of a new plug-in hybrid model Prius that the automaker expects to be affordable and eco-friendly. The new version should hit shelves at 2011 Chicago Toyota dealers across the city.
This new plug-in model will travel up to 60 miles per hour for 14.5 all-electric movement on lithium-ion batteries alone. When all that power is gone, the traditional hybrid engine kicks in, giving the vehicle the same functionality as a regular Prius. Chicago Prius drivers could seriously benefit from all that battery power, especially ones that handle shorter commutes to and from work. Combining the fully-charged battery and a full tank of fuel, Toyota says it expects the new plug-in hybrid to get a full range of 870 miles. That’s an entire road trip on only a single tank of gas. Pretty incredible, and pretty viable for Chicago Toyota Prius dealerships.
But some 2011 Chicago Toyota buyers are in luck and won’t have to wait very long. Toyota says it will make the plug-in Prius available for lease to universities, corporations and government agencies for a trial period to help work out the kinks before the vehicle hits the market. Chicago Prius drivers who work in these industries might get a crack at the plug-in beauty before the rest of us consumers can get our hands around the wheel. There will be 600 available Japan, Europe and the U.S., with 150 of them coming to our shores. That doesn’t make your odds good, but it’s better than nothing.
Toyota better not miscalculate the capabilities of the plug-in Prius because they’re up against some pretty stiff competition. The Chevy Volt is due for release that same year, a car that is expected to get a full 40 miles of battery range before you have to kick its combustion engine on.