Outstanding ‘firsts’ of the 2017 Toyota Prius Plug-in

Did you know that Toyota was the first manufacturer to bring a plug-in hybrid vehicle to the market with the original Prius Plug-in, launched in 2012?

With the launch of the second-generation Prius Plug-in, Toyota is reinforcing its position as the segment’s originator and innovator with five important technological firsts.

Take a look beneath the svelte bodywork to see how each of these advances contribute to the Prius Plug-in’s remarkable overall performance.

World first: range-extending solar roof

Prius Plug-in is the first mass-produced car to use solar charging as a means of delivering motive power for the vehicle. This means that if you have to park somewhere there is no charging network, or if an electrical blackout shuts down the grid, you can still charge your battery using the power of the sun.

Depending on weather conditions, solar charging has the potential to increase the EV range by up to three miles a day, or around 400 miles a year in UK city traffic. The system also works on the move, adding extra power to electronics such as satellite navigation, lights and automatic windows, increasing hybrid system efficiency by two to three per cent.

World first: gas-injection heat pump air conditioning

Prius Plug-in launches a world-first gas-injection heat pump air conditioning system that runs independently of the engine to avoid compromising efficiency. The pressurised system uses a traditional network of heat exchanger, internal condenser and evaporator to convert coolant to gas and generate a change in temperature.

What is unique about this set-up, however, is the way that some of the gas created by this phase change is injected back into the compressor to effectively ‘turbocharge’ the coolant flow rate and heating capacity. So effective is this new system that it can heat the cabin without starting the engine, even when outside temperatures are as low as -10°C.

World first: carbon fibre reinforced plastic tailgate

The new Prius Plug-in is the first mass-produced car to be fitted with a lightweight CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic) tailgate. Adopting this extremely strong composite material for the internal framework of the rear hatch has reduced weight by 40 per cent compared to conventional aluminium.

Another benefit of CFRP is its high-quality surface finish, which removes the need for additional internal trimming and has expanded rearward visibility by 6.4 degrees over the outgoing model.

Toyota first: battery warming system

Battery output decreases in cold weather, so Toyota has introduced a heating element under each of the five stacks of 19 cells within the new lithium-ion traction battery. This minimises the impact of cold weather on the EV driving range, ensuring full power is available from the start while reducing the need of assistance from the petrol engine.

In view of this new system, the Prius Plug-in now allows you to set a charging timer so the battery is optimised for the start of your daily commute.

Toyota first: dual motor drive system

Prius Plug-in features Toyota’s first hybrid powertrain with a dual motor drive system. In normal use, the power control unit directs battery voltage to the primary electric motor. However, when maximum EV output is needed, the PCU engages a special one-way gear within the transaxle that allows the traditional hybrid system generator to function as a second electric motor.

This increases EV torque by around 83 per cent, delivering better acceleration, more engaging performance and a maximum EV speed of 84mph. It also reduces the need for the petrol engine to cut in and provide extra power.


  1. Looks fantastic and well done to Toyota for continuing to push the boundaries. My Auris hybrid ST (estate) is a great all rounder and I’d struggle to lose the load space and 5th seat by going with the new plug-in Prius. Are there any plans for a plug-in Auris ST or any other TNGA based plug-in hybrid with a bit more practicality than the Prius?

    1. Hi Darren,
      Thanks for your positive feedback! We’re so glad you’re a fan. Unfortunately, we have no information regarding the future of the Auris and any developments/future models will be posted on our blog/social media channels. We’d have to advise following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook for the latest updates! 🙂

  2. Looks nice, but I am concerned about the space. Only two seats in the back and limited boot space… Not sure if this is a practical car.
    I can’t find it anywhere: can you fit a tow bar like on the standard Prius? That would be the deal maker / breaker for me.

    1. Hi there,
      Towing is not available on the Prius Plug-in. However, for the first time, towing is available on the all new Prius, with either a fixed or detachable tow bar available with a choice of 7-pin or 13-pin wiring kits. We would have to recommend speaking with a local dealer if you want some more information regarding the Prius and it’s towing capabilities.

  3. I really really like the Prius Plug-in, and the new one generally looks great.

    I think however it is a great shame 🙁 the new Prius Plug-in is loosing things that were standard or optional on the outgoing Prius Plug-in i.e. • headlamp washers and • rear windscreen wash wipe were standard on the last Prius Plug-in. Maybe the funny shaped rear windscreen makes a rear windscreen wiper impractical. I would rather have a more conventional rear windscreen with a rear windscreen wiper than a radical rear windscreen without a rear windscreen wiper.

    One thing that was optional on the old Prius Plug-in is • privacy glass on the rear windows. This is not available on the new Prius Plug-in. I cannot comprehend why this is no longer offered.

    Also, getting the optional Solar Roof on the Business Edition Plus strangely means Head Up Display, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are all removed 🙁.

    1. Hi Derek,
      Feedback is always welcomed and we really appreciate all your comments. Your post will be fed back to our team!

  4. Thanks Ella,

    I’m really sorry that most of my points were so negative 🙁. As I said, I do really really like the Prius Plug-in. It just seems that it has been designed to be not quite as good as it easily could have been.

    Thanks for feeding it back to your team 🙂.

    On a more positive note, I think the regular Prius and C-HR Hybrid having a towing capacity of 725 kg is a very positive step, and it would be nice if other hybrids such as the Auris Hybrid, Yaris Hybrid and particularly the Prius Plug-in were to follow suit.

    1. Don’t worry, Derek. We’re happy to receive any feedback from our customers, whether positive or negative! Thanks for the note on towing capacity, we’ll have to wait and see what future gen models have in store.

      1. Thanks Ella,
        I hope you find the feedback useful 🙂. I will also say I think the instrument panel above the line of sight of the steering wheel where it never gets obscured by the steering wheel is a truly brilliant feature of the Prius-regular and Prius Plug-in. I’m very glad to see that’s stayed in the current generation of Prius. I also like the split/double rear windscreen on the Prius-regular and Prius Plug-in. I hope these feature stay in future generation models 🙂.

  5. I just bought a Prius C. So space or luxury items aren’t what I’m interested in. However that 80+mph and 22mile range DEFINITELY has me eyeballing this as my next car. Give me a next gen Prius c without any bells or whistles and I’m sold.

  6. I have a 2010 Prius with 130,000 miles and have just ordered a 2020 Prius Prime Limited. I hope I get delivery before winter as I drive a 1998 Jeep in the snow.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for getting in touch. It’s great to hear you’ve ordered a new Prius Prime, we wish you many happy miles behind the wheel.


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