2011 Plug-in Prius Yaris

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2011 Plug-in Prius Yaris FRONT VIEW

2011 Plug-in Prius/Yaris: Toyota will be the first major automaker to offer mass-produced, factory-built plug-in hybrid vehicles that can be recharged via any common 110 volt outlet.
Current production hybrids like the 2010 Prius are "closed loop" - the car's on-board gasoline engine provides the energy to charge the batteries that in turn power the electric motors. This means the car has to burn gas in order to to power up the hybrid battery/electric portion of its drivetrain - which reduces fuel efficiency. It also means the vehicle is just as dependent on gasoline as any standard car.

A plug-in hybrid, on the other hand, makes it possible to recharge the car's batteries without using the gas engine at all. Not only is fuel economy much improved (prototype Prius plug-in hybrids have achieved 100-plus miles per gallon vs. the current's car's 51 mpg) but range is increased and the car can be driven at higher speeds on battery power alone, too. For commuters whose trip into work is less than 30 miles or so each way, it ought to be possible to operate the car entirely on battery power alone - without burning a single drop of gasoline.

Electricity isn't free, of course - but the estimated cost to recharge a plug-in hybrid is still about 30-40 percent less than the equivalent cost (at current prices) of fueling up with gasoline.

A hybrid version of the subcompact Yaris sedan will also join the lineup next year (2011) and this model is anticipated to deliver even better gas mileage than the current Prius due to its smaller size and lower weight - perhaps as much as 60 mpg. (Plug-in versions, if offered, should achieve 100-plus mpgs.)

2011 Plug-in Prius Yaris side view

Prices haven't yet been disclosed but the plug in-version of the '11 Prius will likely be only slightly more expensive than the current (2010) model, which starts at $22,800. The hybrid 2011 Yaris is expected to cost about 10-20 percent more than the current (2010) non-hybrid Yaris, which has a base price of $13,365.

Tags: #Toyota