To get a little bit of clarification on the reported 12-mile EV-only range that the plug-in Prius is achieving in current testing, we spoke with Toyota Prius vehicle specialist Stephanie Wohlgamuth, who is working at the Toyota booth here at the SAE World Congress. Wohlgamuth said that the number is fairly accurate, and that the vehicles are currently driving between seven and 14 miles on electrons only. While this is notably shorter than the Volt's 40-mile EV-only target, Toyota is giving itself time to work on the technology. Wohlgamuth said that the PHEV Prius will only be available as leased vehicles for fleets through 2012. All we can do is speculate as to when the purchase date for individual customers will be – Wohlgamuth wouldn't say if late 2012 or early 2013 was even in the ballpark.
This is quite a delay for Toyota. In fact, Wohlgamuth told us that Toyota had originally wanted to make the plug-in technology available in the third-generation Prius, which is launching in this spring. She wouldn't clarify what caused the hold-up or give any other details. There is one way that the Prius timeline is moving quickly, though: she said that pricing for the 2010 Prius will likely be announced this week.
A PHEV Prius wasn't available at Cobo Hall, but we've got plenty of pictures in our archive. The shots below are from late 2007.
UPDATE: We heard back from Toyota's Jaycie Chitwood and got a bit of clarification on the PHEV capability of the new Prius:
During its development, the new Prius was designed and engineered to package either the lithium-ion battery pack with plug-in capability, or the nickel-metal hydride battery for the conventional gas-electric system.