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Plug-in Prius to Debut at Frankfurt

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2011 Toyota Prius

author photo by Jeffrey Archer

Toyota is adding another member to the Prius family. In addition to the traditional Prius hybrid and the newly available Prius V, Toyota recently announced it will debut a plug-in hybrid version of the Prius at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.

Originally shown in concept form at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the plug-in Prius was already sold in small numbers to fleet and government buyers worldwide. While those sales were primarily intended to allow Toyota to test its plug-in hybrid system, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid shown at this year's Frankfurt show is a finished, production-ready variant of the popular hybrid hatchback.

Scheduled to go on sale in Europe this fall with a US launch set for spring 2012, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid uses a gas and electric drivetrain similar to the one found in the Chevrolet Volt. That means the plug-in hatchback utilizes a traditional gasoline engine as well as a fully-electric motor, in this case capable of travelling about 12 miles before reverting to gas power. Toyota says the Prius Plug-in Hybrid's electric motor can be fully recharged in about 90 minutes using a 240-volt charger.

While Toyota says the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is capable of around 107 miles per gallon on the European test cycle, there's no word on where the EPA will rate the plug-in Prius when it makes its debut stateside. According to Toyota, the Prius Plug-in achieved between 70 and 110 mpg during testing.

When the Prius Plug-in Hybrid does make its way into US dealers, it will find itself amongst tough competition. Fully-electric rivals include the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf, while the popular Chevrolet Volt will serve as the Prius's chief plug-in competitor. In contrast to the Prius Plug-in's 12-mile fully-electric range, the Volt can travel up to 30 miles under fully electric power.

Toyota has not announced final pricing on the Prius Plug-in Hybrid for European or North American markets. When more details to become available, we'll be there to cover them live from the Frankfurt Motor Show.

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Plug-in Prius to Debut at Frankfurt