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Plug-in Prius priced at under $30K after tax credit

The plug-in Prius will get 87 miles per gallon equivalent by combining a bigger battery with gasoline engine, while Toyota also readies the Prius V crossover.

Toyota detailed pricing for two new members of its hybrid Prius family, including a plug-in Prius which will cost less than $30,000 after a federal tax credit.

The base price of the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid is $32,000 and a higher-end Advanced trim will cost $39,525. The plug-in will be eligible for a $2,500 federal tax credit, which is calculated by the size of the battery.

Toyota also announced the Prius V, a larger crossover version of the Prius, will cost between $26,400 and $29,990 depending on the model. Mileage for the Prius V is estimated at 42 miles per gallon compared to 49 miles per gallon for the Prius.

The Plug-in Prius will introduce a 4.4 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack, a switch from the nickel metal hydride batteries in current Prius sedans. The car includes a charger that can replenish the batteries in about three hours from a standard electrical outlet and an hour and a half from a dedicated 240-volt charger.

Mileage for the plug-in will be 87 miles per gallon equivalent, or MPGe, a conversion used for plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The pricing positions it competitively against other plug-in models already available. The $32,000 base model Plug-in Prius compares with $39,995 for the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt and $35,200 for the latest all-electric Nissan Leaf. Both of those cars have larger batteries and get a $7,500 tax credit.

Toyota's approach to electrification has been, in general, more conservative than other automakers, particularly Nissan. The electric-driving range for the Plug-in Prius is up to 15 miles, which is shorter than the Volt or Leaf, but the smaller battery keeps the costs down.

By having a hybrid design, where the car optimizes fuel consumption by drawing on both battery power and gasoline, driver range anxiety should not be a problem, Toyota said.