Toyota has announced it will offer a plug-in hybrid vehicle with lithium-ion batteries (most likely, for lease, not for sale) in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2010. This is the confirmation of the success of Toyota's PHEV Prius plan and tests in Japan and in UC Davis. Batteries will be supplied by the joint venture that Toyota set up with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which will begin producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 and will move into full-scale production in 2010. While this sort of official confirmation is nice, Toyota isn't revealing everything: the company said are working in a new type of battery which could outperform lithium-ion, but didn't explain further). It seems that Toyota doesn't want to fall behind GM's Volt.

During the press conference announcing the PHEV Prius, Toyota confirmed its plans to produce the Camry Hybrid in Australia and Thailand and showed off its improvements in gas mileage for both gasoline and clean diesel models (sold under the DCAT label in Europe).

Update:
Don't get too excited yet. We checked with Toyota spokesman Curt McCallister who confirmed that nothing has changed with Toyota's PHEV plans Since CEO Watanabe spoke at the Detroit Auto Show in January. The Panasonic EV plant will begin making lithium batteries late in 2009. However, 2010 will only see a few hundred plug-in Priuses available to government and commercial fleets for testing. The PHEVs would not be available in higher volumes to retail customers until 2011-12 at least.

[Source: AP]

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