Saturday, November 6, 2010

SEMA 2010-Toyota introduced a Prius at SEMA show

SEMA 2010
Toyota introduced a Prius at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show this week the previews an upcoming sport model. With the Prius Plus Performance Package, the Prius is enhanced cosmetically, with the promise to retain its stellar fuel economy.

New 17-inch wheels are wrapped in low-profile 215/45R17 tires.
Finishing touches include obligatory "Plus" badging and logo-emblazoned floor mats.

Toyota will be offering the Plus Performance Package in limited quantities beginning in April of next year. The 2010 SEMA Show will mark the debut of the all-new Toyota Prius PLUS Performance Package, a new hybrid performance line by Toyota Racing Development (TRD). Developed to meet the evolving demands of the growing hybrid segment, PLUS enhances the driving experience for Toyota hybrid enthusiasts by offering cool and fun accessories that add sporty looks with performance handling. The Prius PLUS Performance Package starts with a seven-piece aerodynamic body kit including a uniquely styled rear diffuser, which enhances its already sleek appearance and maintains its 0.25 coefficient of drag.

The PLUS package delivers surprising traction and handling without sacrificing any fuel efficiency. The package also includes exclusive floormats with a "PLUS" logo and a unique "PLUS" exterior badge.
What kind of mileage would the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid get on a road trip, say, from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back? To find out, I drove to Vegas.

OK, so I drove to Vegas for the "SEMA show". While the Mojave is home to nine solar power plants now, with more on the way, Interstate 15 as far as I know has exactly zero EV charging stations between my Los Angeles home and the vapid, bottomless, energy-inefficient glitz of Las Vegas.

So by the time I filled up the gas tank and headed east, the Prius was running on gasoline alone (and whatever small squirts of regenerative braking pumped up its primary battery pack). It was, effectively, just a regular 2010 Prius.

Initiating passing maneuvers on the highway results in wildly flailing engine revs and, eventually, some forward motion. Whatever power comes from the four-banger and its accompanying batteries (spec sheet says it's 134 hp) is eaten up by the CVT. Remember also that this is a design tuned for efficiency, from its low-rolling-resistance tires to its efficiently aerodynamic shape.

So maybe that's why I got mileage poorer than the car's claimed 50-mpg rating. For the 597.2 miles up, back and around Las Vegas, I got just less than 40 mpg.

Hybrids are not meant for long-haul trucking, of course. In the city, the Prius plug-in has hit right about 50 mpg so far on gasoline and 62 mpg combined with battery power. If I plug in my plug-in Prius every 12.5 miles, I will never need gasoline. If I drive it to Vegas, I need gasoline the whole way. An evil Santa. An evil, mad-scientist Santa!

Even through the fog of the syrupy and chemically unstable Red Bull, I remember thinking, "They probably shouldn't be parading this guy before the press."

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