The next-generation Prius is due somewhere around 2014. What I expect: 55 mpg, maybe even 60. What I didn’t expect: handy disaster capability. TTAC’s Bertel Schmitt explains:
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami will get Toyota customers a unique feature: A genset, free with purchase of a hybrid. Toyota was moved by the fact that people who had not electricity, but who had gasoline, rigged their hybrid to produce at least a little power. Akio Toyoda announced that “all Toyota hybrids will receive a new function that allows them to be used as emergency generators.”
One guy who’s tried something similar with a current model:
I hook up a few inverters to my Prius, and it runs maybe 5 minutes every four hours or so to keep the battery charged. Was very handy last week when the power was out for 3 days when the tornadoes ripped through.
Estimated gasoline use for the period: around half a gallon.