There are very official few plug-in Priuses currently cruising the world's streets. One of them was part of the Ride and Drive at EVS23, and there is no way we could pass up the chance to drive one. The trouble was, by the time it was our turn, the extra NiMH battery pack that provides up to seven miles of all-electric driving was plumb tuckered out and the car was operating in standard hybrid mode. So, driving this prototype around the block felt just like driving a normal Prius. Hopefully we'll soon get to test out a fully-charged PHEV Prius, but at least the car's shiny prism/rainbow exterior made us feel special at EVS23.
We also cornered Jaycie Chitwood, Toyota's senior strategic planner, advanced technologies group, after a long day on the EVS23 showroom floor and got the scoop on what Toyota is hoping to learn from the three PHEV Prius test sites (Japan, France and campuses of the University of California system). Chitwood says that UC Berkeley will focus on getting these vehicles into customer's hands while UC Irvine will be focusing on the environmental benefits that a plug-in system brings to reducing emissions. Japan and France, with their reliance on nuclear power for electricity, certainly have a different public mood for plug-in vehicles than what exists in the U.S., she says. Go ahead and hit play to find out more.
You can also learn more about what's inside the plug-in Priuses here.