Toyota to Sell Prius Plug-in Hybrids Globally in Two Years

By 2011, Toyota plans to have a production version of its Prius Plug-in Hybrid for sale around the world. Before that, however, it will lease a limited number of the cars to fleets in Japan, Europe, and North America.

Toyota’s goal with the Prius Plug-in Hybrid leasing program is to use it as a test bed for the technology, allowing Toyota to garner real-world feedback on the PHEV system before introducing it to consumers. In 2010, Toyota will build approximately 600 Prius Plug-In Hybrids, which will reach fleet customers in the first half of 2010. Toyota says approximately 230 cars will go to Japan, 150 will come to the U.S., and 200 will go to Europe (100 of the European cars are destined for Strasbourg, France). Toyota has not decided where the remaining 20 vehicles will go, but is considering 10 European countries, as well as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The Prius PHEV will be Toyota’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle, and will also be the first car offered by the manufacturer to use lithium-ion battery packs. Thanks to the extra capacity of the Li-Ion batteries, the Prius PHEV will be able to propel itself on electric power alone for up to 14.5 miles. Unlike the normal Prius, which has a limited range of electric-only speeds, the Prius PHEV will be able to reach 62 mph without using the gasoline engine.

While testing procedures for plug-in hybrids has yet to be finalized in the U.S., in testing performed in Japan (which requires Toyota to run the Prius as both a hybrid and an electric vehicle), the Prius PHEV returned a fuel economy rating equivalent to 134 U.S. mpg.

Source: Green Car Congress