Sunday, April 24, 2011

FIRST-EVER plug-in prius! Really?

A story on Toyota's announcement that an ordering system for the plug-in prius will be coming later this year prompted me to check out the site. I find it rather funny and rather sad.

"THE FIRST-EVER prius plug-in hybrid," it says. Really? Ask Felix Kramer of CalCars. Ask any of the hundreds of individuals and fleets driving around in prius converted to have plug-in capability.

It's not even Toyota's first plug-in prius. They've been showing variants around for more than two years. The only thing that's "first" about it is that they will have a system for selling them sometime later this year in a baker's dozen states give or take.

Also headlined on the website: "the prius everyone's been waiting for." That they got right. Their own customer polling a long time ago showed a plug was at the top of Prius drivers' wish lists. Surely there's a market for their plug-in hybrid. But the bar has been raised in two unexpected directions. Nissan has begun to put a real all-electric car on the market. And GM has extended the electric range expectation for a plug-in hybrid before Toyota's even in the game.

Toyota has passed on the opportunity to be the plug-in leader, given up the lead they'd accrued from the RAV4 EV and the Prius as much as GM postponed its rendevous with destiny when they jettisoned the EV1. Someone from Toyota once told me they are "never first, always best." Time will tell.