The styrofoam hamburger container shape of the Toyota Prius elicits a lot of responses, good and bad. But when was the last time you saw one and thought, "wow"? Back when the hybrid was introduced, amazement might have been a common reaction, but we've seen the Prius in the U.S. for eight years already. What could possibly make us excited about the car now (well, aside from the high gas mileage). Toyota North America's head of product planning Mike O'Brien has been thinking about ways to bring the wow back to the Prius, and it all revolves around a plug. As US News talked to O'Brien and then tried to crack the truth from the rumors about the upcoming Prius refresh. Their guesses:

  • An all-electric button to go a few miles on battery power alone. This is a pretty easy guess to make, as the EV button is already available on the Japanese Prius.
  • Two-prong outlets. Power your laptop or DVD player right off the powerful hybrid battery? Could happen.
  • Plug-in Prius. Um, yeah, this one we know about.
  • Lastly, US News thinks that the new Prius could be used as an emergency generator. O'Brien told the magazine that, "There's enough power in a Prius battery to power a 1,200-square-foot house." This would be an option down the road - i.e., not in the Prius we'll be seeing in Detroit in January.

[Source: Rick Newman / US News via EV World]