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First Look: 2010 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

The idea of a plug-in Prius isn't new to Toyota (it's toyed with several prototypes in the past), but the Japanese automaker is bringing another example to the 2009 Frankfurt motor show, this time based upon the all-new 2010 Prius.

The plug-in version of the Prius makes several improvements upon the normal Prius in that it eschews the hefty (and dated) nickel-metal-hydride batteries for lighter, more powerful lithium-ion batteries.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid can now travel up to 12 miles on electric power alone, even at highway speeds. For longer freeway journeys, the plug-in Prius will revert to "hybrid mode" and operate like a conventional Prius.

Global delivery of the 2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will begin in late 2009 with an initial batch of 500 vehicles. 150 of those vehicles are targeted for use in U.S. lease-fleet customers for market and engineering analysis. Toyota will gather real world driving feedback through this program and hopes to learn customer expectations for plug-in hybrid vehicles.