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Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Toyota has confirmed the introduction of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which can be charged from an electricity supply to give a greater range on its batteries and emissions of just 59 g/km CO2.

Approximately 600 units will be introduced in Japan, the United States, and Europe over the first half of 2010. Twenty will come to the UK for trials in mid-2010. Toyota says that the Plug-in Prius will be commercially available in two years.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) offers greater range on electric power, significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The PHV uses lithium-ion batteries – a first for Toyota – which can be charged from an external source as well as by the car’s own hybrid drive system.

The Prius PHVs will be leased to government ministries, local governments, corporations including electric power companies, universities and research agencies, for use in a demonstration programme aimed at collecting real-world driving data and spurring the development of battery-charging infrastructure.

In Europe, Toyota will lease approximately 200 units, 20 of which will come to the UK in mid-2010. The details of these UK leases will be the subject of a separate announcement closer to the time. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid will also be introduced in France and Portugal, with the company also considering 10 other European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, along with countries in other regions, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Prius PHV can be charged using an external power source such as a household electric outlet and is the first vehicle produced by Toyota to use a lithium-ion battery. The car weighs 1490 kg and seats five. In EV mode the maximum speed is 62 mph.

Due to the battery’s expanded capacity, the vehicle has an extended electric-vehicle driving range, enabling use as an electric vehicle (EV) for short distances. For medium and long distances, after battery power depletes to a level no longer allowing EV driving mode, the vehicle operates as a conventional petrol-electric hybrid vehicle (HV). So use is not constrained by remaining battery power or availability of battery-charging infrastructure.

PHVs such as the Prius Plug-in Hybrid are expected to achieve fuel efficiency superior to conventional petrol-electric HVs, reduce consumption of fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions and atmospheric pollution. Verifications and rules that gauge the performance of a PHV (i.e. official fuel consumption tests) differ from region to region, but in Europe, the Prius PHV emits only 59g CO2 per km in the New European Driving Cycle.

Toyota believes that to meet the diversification of energy sources, plug-in hybrid vehicles are an attractive option. Toyota is therefore actively encouraging market introduction to aid understanding and to promote the early widespread use of PHVs. Toyota will analyse feedback regarding the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, with an aim to begin sales in the tens of thousands of units to the general public in two years.