Toyota could be taking a big EV step forward in Singapore, with its plug-in version of the Prius that can run 62km on battery power alone
Photos: Derryn Wong, Toyota
2018: The electric vehicle (EV) race is heating up in Singapore, with numerous new EVs hitting showrooms this year – Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Renault Zoe, BMW i3s, plus BMW’s existing range of plug-in hybrid vehicles that include the BMW 225xE.
Toyota could be the next brand to field an EV, in the form of the Toyota Prius PHV. Also known as the Prius Prime in the USA, the plug-in variant of iconic hybrid hatchback has been spied with homologation plates in Singapore.
Toyota dealer Borneo Motors declined an official comment on the car’s availability for Singapore, but it’s a very reasonable guess that the car is currently undergoing approval with a view to begin official sales here.
The Prius PHV sees considerable visual differences over its brother, the regular fourth-gen Toyota Prius, and it’s 165mm longer, 15mm wider, and 20mm lower (4,645mm long, 1,760mm wide, 1,470mm tall) though the wheelbase is the same.
With its headlights made of up cubed-LED segments and horizontal lightbars below, it bears a closer resemblance to Toyota’s real wonder machine, the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car.
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Under the skin is the same new-gen Toyota New Global Architecture, also seen in the C-HR crossover, while the interior is almost identical to the normal Prius hatchback’s.
Since the PHV is still a hybrid, the overall system is still quite similar to the one found in the Prius. It has a 1.8-litre Atkinson cycle inline four engine (2ZR-FXE) that makes 97hp, for a total of 120hp.
One big difference of the Prius PHV is a new Dual Motor Drive System, which allows both its motor-generators (MG1 with 30hp and MG2 with 71hp) to add power to the system total.
Toyota says the plug-in is the first Toyota hybrid to feature this system, previous systems only had one motor-generator adding power/torque to the system, with the other solely used for regeneration and re-starting the engine.
The total power output is the same, though, so presumably the additional motor is used selectively to add torque for slight boosts to acceleration when needed.
Of course, as a plug-in, the other key difference is that while the Prius can operate for short distances on its 1.31kWh nickel metal-hydride battery pack, the Prius PHV has a much larger 8.8kWh lithium ion battery pack residing under the boot.
As a plug-in hybrid, the drive modes are different from the regular hybrid’s. There’s HV mode, where the car operates as a hybrid. EV mode, where the engine only turns on at high-speed or full throttle. EV City, with reduced power output and the engine only coming in at kick-down. There’s also a Battery Charge mode, where the engine charges the lithium ion battery.
For right-hand drive markets, the quoted pure EV range is 62km, with a maximum speed of 135km/h, on battery power alone. Quoted charge time is under two hours, with a Type II connector (currently also the standard charge port for Singapore).
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Its acceleration and top speed figures are slightly less than that of the Prius, 0-100km/h in 11.1 seconds and 162km/h (compared to 10.8 seconds and 180km/h) presumably due to the extra weight of the larger battery. The Prius PHV weighs 1,540kg, against the normal Prius at 1,390kg (approximate average weights quoted) that’s a hefty 150kg difference.
No official fuel efficiency figures are available although for the UK the combined figure is 1.0L/100km, this is the NEDC (New European Drive Cycle) figure before the new World Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) comes into force.
Compared to its Prius brother, the PHV has a customised suspension setup and tuning, with Toyota also claiming improvements to interior refinement thanks to additional seals and insulation, and acoustic glass for the front doors.
Other interesting features of the Prius PHV include a solar panel roof – though this wasn’t present on the unit spotted in Singapore – that extends the driving range by charging the 12V auxiliary battery and contributing a two to three percent efficiency improvement. Another first is the tailgate, which is made from carbonfibre.