BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 13 February '17

Toyota’s new Prius Plug-in has double the driving range of its predecessor

Toyota’s original Prius Plug-in was the first plug-in hybrid vehicle on the market. Now Toyota has moved the technology forward and its second generation model can cover double the distance – more than 30 miles – and achieve much higher speeds in all-electric, emissions-free driving.

A solar roof

Prius Plug-in also has a number of new technologies that increase efficiency, performance and practicality, helping to boost the model’s all-round appeal.

Technological breakthroughs include a Dual Motor EV drive system and a Battery Warming system, plus two world firsts: an EV range-extending solar roof and gas-injection heat pump air conditioning.

Dual Motor Drive System

Prius Plug-in is equipped with a Dual Motor Drive System, increasing EV power by around 83%.

A highly compact, one-way gear within the transaxle enables the hybrid system generator to act as a second electric motor. This boosts EV driving power, giving better acceleration, more engaging performance and a higher maximum EV speed of 84mph.

Improved battery and faster charging

The large-capacity lithium-ion battery, located under the rear load space, is largely responsible for the 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.

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.

The increase in maximum power from 2.0 to 3.3kW means the battery can be fully charged up to 65% 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.

Gas-injection heat pump air con

A new gas-injection heat pump powers the air conditioning, helping to improve Prius Plug-in’s 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.

Back to that solar roof…

Developing a technology first seen on the Toyota 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 in to 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.

UK model range and pricing

The new Prius Plug-in is 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.

On-the-road prices start at £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.

The cars are available to order now, with deliveries from 01 March. In common with all new Toyota vehicles, Prius Plug-in is protected by a five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Click here for more from Toyota on its all-new Prius Plug-in.