Buy a Toyota generator and get a Prius free? Kind of, as the Japanese company is to add normal AC power outlets in cars to enable motorists to power laptops, fridges, microwave ovens or whatever they wish.
I have wondered before why we are still stuck with cigarette lighter sockets in cars, in spite of the fact that hardly anyone smokes in cars any more. These days you are much more likely to find a phone plugged into the dashboard, or a sat nav system or DVD players for the kids — all of which need a special adapter to fit the lighter socket. And I speak from experience when I say it’s easy to forget to bring them; or that they end up filling the glove box with a tangled mess of cables. So why not dump the old lighter sockets altogether for something more useful that we use outside of the car anyway?
I’d considered USB charging ports to be a decent compromise, but it would seem Toyota is to go one further with normal household power sockets for its Prius in Japan.
The idea was apparently born when owners of the domestic market Toyota Estima MPV were using that car’s AC power outlets for emergency lighting after February’s earthquake knocked out the electricity grid in many parts of Japan. It’s currently the only model the company offers with such a facility.
But the Prius makes better sense, as it has a large bank of battteries to deliver a much more useful 1,500watts of charge, enough to power multiple items at once. Additionally, the petrol engine attached to the hybrid powertrain can kick in to keep the batteries charged and attached appliances working, even increasing its revs automatically to keep up with demand.
So far Toyota has announced AC power outlets only for the Japanese market Prius, as different sockets and voltages between countries make it tricky to do all in one go.
We’ll keep you posted on a UK introduction though.