NiMH equipped Prius-II OEM PHEV-6 is a winner. Prius-III w/ NiMH by late 08/early 09 and Li-Ion later. [xfloat=right]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/590/Prius-II_OEM_PHEV_Drivers_Side_Profile.jpg[/xfloat]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Jan. 16, 2008 Detroit, MI. -- With the advent of GM’s Chevrolet Volt concept at last year's 2007 Detroit Autoshow, the Prius faithful held their collective breath waiting to see what Toyota would offer to counter the uber-capable but paper launched GM PHEV. Toyota did come through -- though with some twists. Just seven short months after the appearance of what is perceived to be direct competition, Toyota reversed a multi-years long anti-PHEV stance and revealed some of its cards in this high stake automotive poker game. The Prius nation was introduced to an inspiring current generation Prius-II augmented by an additional NiMH pack, charging port and new SW programming yielding modest AER capabilities. Most in the hybrid community now wonder why this OEM PHEV was not released earlier. This is Toyota’s first real world PHEV, and it ushers in a new era of clean transportation from the most successful of hybrid manufacturers. Minor tweaks yield large improvements Toyota has created a game changing vehicle by adding a second NiMH pack (identical in every way to one currently housed in the standard Prius) to the space normally reserved for the spare tire. New SW/HW programming allows EV mode up to 62 mph (21mph faster than the stock Prius!) and a smart charger can be used for plug-in capability. Although the smallish 1.3kWh pack may not seem like a large addition, two packs connected in parallel reduce current draw and inrush by half, allowing a deeper discharge without harming pack longevity. With more current and a slightly deeper discharge available, more power can be applied to the EV power plant commonly known as MG2. What these minor additions provide is not only much improved performance in any number of driving scenarios; it adds the ability to travel 6 + miles on electricity from a household outlet. With more current available to MG2, faster accelerations and higher speeds are achievable in EV mode. While the benefits of a plug-in are numerous, primary among them is the compelling fact that electricity to drive the Prius-II PHEV requires just ¼ the cost of traveling the same 6 + miles using gasoline! Look and Feel Energy Screen--------------------------------------------Consumption Screen-------------------------------------------PHEV Screen The first screen on the left is the standard Energy screen. What is added is the bar graph and EV remaining text. As long as you keep the blue bar from rising into the red, you can stay in EV running off the pack. EV remaining is self explanatory. The center screenshot is the standard Consumption screen although 1 minute bars like the TCH are included vs. 5-minute bars in the standard Prius. The 33.1 mpg does not make any sense but I suspect Toyota was charging this PHEV off the ICE between driver schedules. The left screenshot is a new Plug-In screen showing power input into the pack on the last charge and cumulative over the last month. No explanation as to the meaning of the EV/HV bar graph at the bottom was available. 46 mph EV The screenshot above included both the speedometer and Energy screen showing > 41 mph EV mode in real time. Besides an up to 62 mph EV mode, you have available to you a pure glide below 63 mph as well. I do not know if there is a warp-stealth capability above 62 given we did not travel above 52 mph during the segment. All in all, with temperatures in the lower 30’s and 5.4 miles of EV capability per the Energy screen when first driving off, we drove 5.x miles with .5 miles of ICE-On time. Arriving back at the initial start point showed a spare 1.8 miles of EV left in an OEM setup vehicle. For a hypermiler in a well setup PHEV, I suspect the OEM PHEV-6 (PHEV-8 on the Japan 10/15) could be taken out beyond 10 miles from a topped off pack to a completely depleted one without much effort other than knowing how to handle a Prius in various traffic conditions with the various standard modes available.