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No plug-in Toyota Prius until at least 2014

Ruled out for now: Toyota Australia has no plans to introduce the current-generation Prius plug-in.

Toyota Australia says no Prius plug-in or extra Prius models for the next few years

Toyota logo24 May 2012

By MIKE COSTELLO

TOYOTA Australia has confirmed that it will not introduce a plug-in version of its Prius hybrid until at least 2014, when the next-generation model is expected to emerge.

The news comes as Holden prepares to launch its plug-in, petrol-electric Holden Volt by the end of the year, with a pricetag of between $50,000 and $60,000.

Toyota’s Australian arm also has no firm plans to introduce and further Prius models to sit alongside the newly-launched ‘C’ light-car and ‘V’ people-mover in the near future, according to corporate manager of product planning Greg Gardner.

The decision not to bring in the plug-in (PHEV) version of the current-shape Prius means the only Toyota PHEVs to be found on local roads in the next few years will be the five units that continue to undergo evaluation with the Victorian government and the CSIRO as part of a trial that commenced in 2009.

Now on sale in Europe, the US and Japan following its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September last year, the Prius PHEV achieves fuel economy of 2.1 litres per 100km and carbon emissions of 49 grams per kilometre.

Unlike the normal Prius, the car can also travel exclusively on electric power for as far as 23 kilometres at speeds of up to 100km/h, with its lithium-ion battery able to be plugged in and recharged from an external charge point in around 90 minutes.

This compares with a maximum range of two kilometres at speeds of less than 50km/h in full-electric mode for the standard, non-plug-in Prius hybrid.

8 center imageFrom top: Toyota Prius, Prius C, Prius V and Camry Hybrid.

Mr Gardner said the fourth-generation Prius – likely to appear globally in 2014 – will feature a plug-in version that is destined for the Australian market.

Mr Gardner also told GoAuto that Toyota Australia would not follow the lead of its US counterpart in establishing the Prius name as a stand-alone range, incorporating the Prius hatch, C, V and PHEV.

“The Americans are very much interested in having Prius as a sub-brand, but I’m not necessarily sure if we had a choice we would go that way,” he said, “We’ve also got the (locally built) Camry Hybrid, and we don’t call that ‘Camry Prius Hybrid’, so it’s a bit of a mixed message in that respect.”

Since March this year, Toyota Australia has launched the new Prius C and V models, a facelifted Prius hatch and the all-new Camry hybrid, prompting something of a hybrid sales renaissance after a dour 2011 that was affected by tsunami-related supply problems.

Sales of the Prius hatch have rebounded this year, up 29.8 per cent to the end of April after recording a 47 per cent drop in 2011, while the Prius C got off to a strong start by recording 405 deliveries in its first full month on sale.

At this week’s launch of the Prius V, Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Matthew Callachor projected sales of the C would settle to around 200 per month, indicating the company has freed up more than the 1200 units it originally projected it would be limited to for the remainder of this year.

Like the Prius C, the new Camry Hybrid variant has started strongly, accounting for around 700 of the total Camry sales of 1602 in April, its first full month on sale.

Mr Callachor said the company expected both the Prius hatch and Prius V to contribute about 100 sales a month each. In the first four months of this year, the company sold 292 Prius hatches, with 76 units registered in April.

Toyota projects that it will sell one million hybrid vehicles globally (including Lexus) this year, up from 630,000 last year, prompting it to call 2012 the “year of the hybrid”.

The Japanese car-maker recently announced it had sold its four-millionth hybrid vehicle since it launched the original Prius in 1997, almost three-quarters of which were of its Prius, Prius C and Prius V models.

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