2009 Toyota Prius Prototype Plugs In, But NiMh Batteries Stick Around

Illustration for article titled 2009 Toyota Prius Prototype Plugs In, But NiMh Batteries Stick Around

Popular Mechanics took a prototype plug-in 2009 Prius for a short test drive, which might be the first PHEV to market. The Prius they ran around still uses the Prius's current nickel-metal hydride battery packs—a pair, actually, with the charging system jimmied in between them—though Toyota hopes to switch to lithium ion, which are more efficient and smaller (thankfully, since the jiggered NiMh packs leave only two medium suitcases worth of trunk space).

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Jibing with a Boston Globe report that Toyota's having problems getting the Li-ion batteries ready, the car might launch as regular hybrid at first, making the jump to plug-in action after the Li-ion tech is good to go. The other possibility is that'll be a plug-in from the start, but with the NiMh pack initially before moving to Li-ion when it's ready. Still, the new, more aggressive EV mode which allows acceleration up to 50mph before jumping to gas is reason enough to want one. [Popular Mechanics]

DISCUSSION

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@Marty_MacFly: "The 2010 Chevy Volt will make this look pitiful as GM's lithium ion solution is soon to enter the testing phase." — That's nice, but what makes you think Toyota won't have lithium ion batteries ready in 2010 too? The report from the Boston Globe predicts they will.

@TR3-A: I've read those "reports" and they lack serious rational backing. For one thing, their report on the "hidden costs of hybrids" pins the pollution from a nickel smelting plant on batteries for hybrids, as if we wouldn't be smelting nickel for any other purpose. And their "dust to dust" report assumes a static cost of $3 per gallon of gasoline, as if the price of gas will never rise over the 15 years they assume for the life of a Prius (that is driven only 6,700 miles per year). Regardless of whether their raw data is accurate, their interpretations are driven by inherently faulty assumptions.