(KCBS) – One of the perks of being an auto editor is the opportunity to drive vehicles that havent yet reached the market, or–some which will never make it. I recall the Chrysler Turbine Car where the huge expense and complication of the engine made mass production impractical.
No such fate is likely for the Plug-in Prius. It’s based on the current sedan but instead of having one metal-hydride battery pack, it has three lithium-ion packs. The first is charged by the gas engine, as in the current Prius. The other two are charged by household current–either 110 or 220. The result is higher speed on batteries and longer distance–up to 13 miles. Then, the gasoline engine kicks in.
Driving has the same feel as current hybrids, but the charging routine can be fiddly. A 25-foot cord with a heavy charging unit attached is put into a grounded sock at home, and the other end with a strange looking 5 pronged end is attached to a socket in the left front fender. The cord is not supposed to touch the ground, but with that length, where do you drape it?
In any case, I set it up for a 3-hour charge, but it stopped at 2 and blew out the garage socket.
Oh well, they’ll get it simplified by the time the Plug-ins are ready for retail, and they’ll also tell us the price and mileage. Maybe they’ll also have a shorter cord.
- Don Mozley, Auto Test Editor
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