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Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept -- Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota is getting ready to start deploying a fleet of 200 plug-in Prius hybrids in the coming months and the company needs to figure out what to do with them. The cars will all be leased for purposes of field testing. Toyota is now in discussions with federal and local governments and energy companies about who will get how many of the lithium ion battery Priuses. The company is looking for towns and cities that are, "actively promoting environmentally considerate vehicles."

The PHEV Prius will be able to go up to 62 mph on electricity alone for about 5 miles. Another 150 examples of the PHEV will be leased here in the U.S., with a similar number going to Europe. The first cars will be delivered in mid-December and Toyota has previously announced plans to start retail sales in about 2012.

[Source: Toyota]


'Prius Plug-in Hybrid' Lease Discussions Begin in Japan

-Potential Users Selected from 'EV & PHV Towns' Program-

Tokyo-TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announces that it has started discussions with potential users in Japan of the newly developed "Prius Plug-in Hybrid". Approximately 200 units will be leased through a leasing company to designated parties such as government ministries, local governments and energy companies that are actively promoting environmentally considerate vehicles.

The designated parties are principally participants in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's "EV & PHV Towns" program1, which aims to promote the widespread use of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs).

Details of the leasing scheme for Japan will be determined through November, with delivery scheduled for mid-December onward. The vehicles will only be leased to parties already designated by TMC.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid is based on the third-generation "Prius" and is equipped with a lithium-ion battery that can be charged using an external electric power source. The vehicle can be used as an EV for short distances, while for medium- and long-distance trips it functions as a conventional gasoline-electric hybrid, meaning use is not constrained by remaining battery power or availability of battery-charging infrastructure. Furthermore, PHVs, such as the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, are expected to achieve higher fuel efficiency than conventional hybrid vehicles, limit consumption of fossil fuels, and reduce CO2 emissions and atmospheric pollution.

TMC believes that, to meet the diversification of energy sources, PHVs are currently the most-suitable environmentally considerate vehicles for widespread use. TMC is therefore encouraging PHV market introduction and understanding toward widespread use by introducing a total of 500 units of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid globally-primarily to fleet customers. Approximately 150 units will go to the United States, and more than 150 units will go to Europe, to countries including France, the United Kingdom and Portugal.

TMC has positioned hybrid technologies as core environmentally considerate vehicle technologies and is using them in the development not only of plug-in hybrid vehicles but also electric vehicles and fuel-cell hybrid vehicles. TMC will continue its efforts in developing and putting into practical use these next-generation vehicles, which are hoped to contribute to reducing petroleum consumption, reducing CO2 emissions and responding to the diversification of energy sources.

1An intensive model program, through the collaboration of the national and local governments, regional businesses and auto manufacturers in Japan, for the introduction and promotion of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as for accelerating the setting up of charging infrastructures and the development of societal awareness and preparedness. Each participating local government is to submit by around the end of this financial year a master plan that reflects the progress of its action plan.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      The current prius battery of 1.3kWh is not well suited to actually powering the vehicle over a considerable distance. Right now the battery is mostly there to capture regenerative braking energy and provide extra boost to the gasoline engine for acceleration and hills. This keeps the engine operation within efficient its most efficient rpm zone most of the time.

      My guess is that they are switching to lithium batteries and bumping the size up to 4kWh so they can qualify for $2500 in plug-in vehicle tax incentives. This is a pretty weak move by toyota that will only boost city mileage slightly.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Risk Assessment conference rooms are where new ideas and talent go to die.
      Witness the load of crap music that has come out since the crackdowns on P2P sharing from the RIAA. They simply don't make enough money to justify the risk of funding the marketing expenses,They would rather spend those dollars in court costs to punish a 12 year old for D/Ling Metallica.
      (GM,i believe,spent in the neighborhood of $4000 per unit in advertising for FY 2006 after the roundup and destruction of the crappy EV-1 and decrease in market shares.)
      Lackluster products seem to be born in rooms such as the aforementioned.
      The market always needs more study before the check leaves the bursars office but once an independent has a success then look for the knock-offs and spin-offs to flood the market infinitum.
      "And if We tell You the name of the game,Boy.
      We call it: Riding the gravy train".
      There is very little difference in SOP from one industry to another these days,IMHO,in fact all of this is IMHO,it seems the CEO's all use the same playbook whether its Cars or Music or Widgets.
      It's up to the small garage upstarts to make a hit,perhaps the Tango will be the game changer that everyone from You and Me to the R.A. to the A.R. are waiting for.
      So go out there and get Daddy a hit!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I expect the Prius plug in, when it comes out, to be good for at least 14 miles on electric only, which may be a good price point as it would cover many of the casual driving needs in Europe and the Far East without adding too much to cost:
      'This experimental plug-in has an electric range of about seven miles, but Toyota says that would at least double in a real product, which won't come until the next-generation Prius — with a lithium-ion battery — does.'
      • 5 Years Ago
      Only 5 miles? Yawn...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think for a Range Extended EV it should have a real world range of at least 20 miles. In the UK at least that would probably cover a large proportion of commutes on EV only mode.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think Toyota are playing the cards very close to their chest. I agree with Nick, once the Volt and Leaf come on to the market it will make the hybrid look old. People will compare no gas to gas sipping hybrid. Toyota don't need to move mountains, they just need to get something like 25 - 30 miles on a charge out of the next Prius and they will kill the Volt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The planned capacity has been 20 km (12.4 miles).

      And measure based on range is confusing, since the purpose of the added capacity is to significantly BOOST efficiency rather than eliminate engine use entirely.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I may be stating the obvious, but I can't help but think that this car is just Toyota's half-hearted attempt to keep up with GM and the Chevy Volt. Toyota has a poor ev attempt in the iQ and now this. The years of American car companies playing catchup is now long gone, at least we know that for sure.

      If Toyota and Honda continue to drag their feet like this, they could have some real problems in the future.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Reality Hurts

        Try thinking about the different reasons for test vehicles next time before you make a dumb post. k thnx
        • 5 Years Ago
        Um.. the hybrid IQ is a poor EV attempt? It's not even released, dude.
        Toyota has the best hybrid system in the world right now. They are not dragging their feet at all. I can't say the same about Honda. They've been behind in powertrain development for a while, and their 1.3 hybrid system is a total joke.

        And yeah, Toyota are douchebags for not openly selling a plug-in version. They are dicking us around just like everyone else. I think it has to do with liability, as Toyota is no stranger to the courtroom.

        Meanwhile Nissan and GM charge forward, trying to un-kill the electric car..
        • 5 Years Ago
        Reality Hurts:

        > I may be stating the obvious, but I can't help but think that this car
        > is just Toyota's half-hearted attempt to keep up with GM

        It's not rocket science to realize that this car is a test vehicle.

        It's also not rocket science to understand that test vehicles need to be subjected to as many charge-discharge cycles as possible to get meaningful results quickly and to simulate battery detoriation.

        One gets more of what's above when the all electric range is tiny.

        > The years of American car companies playing catchup is now long gone,

        Where is the American very reliable, affordable, automatic, 140HP midsize family car going 50 mpg, be it the city or highway?

        Where is the American 300HP, 28 mpg midsize SUV?

        I haven't seen any of these for a while.

        > at least we know that for sure.

        Who is "we"? Are you using plural to get fictitious supporters and to make your false statements just appear veracious?
      • 5 Years Ago
      No thanks. Nice for NEDC tests, not so nice in real life, so how to recover the higher price?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Noooo, thanks. I'd rather drive up to 100 miles on electricity in a Leaf than only 5 (!) in one of these.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You are a funny lot. The plug-in Prius is brilliant iterative engineering. It will be priced far less than the 4-seat wonder called the volt with viridian joule colors.....perhaps as much as 50% less. The Leaf, well, godspeed to Nissan bringing it to market and I thank them for the commitment.
      Prius is a brand any corporate entity would die for. I don't own one. I just canvassed 6 coworkers including myself. 2 live less than 3 miles from work, 2 less than 15, 1 at 18 and 1 at 35 (he's nuts). Is not the testing of the plug-in prius shown all-electric capability in the 8-12 mile range? I see the 5 mi at 62 mph.
      By the way my color for the volt was viridian slate, drat.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota obviously wants to pretend they have an EV by doing the strict minimum. 5 Miles is a joke and they know it.

      Once the Leaf and Volt are out, you'll see them announce a "revised" Prius with a large battery and 100 miles range.

      Dragging their feet like that should be criminal. I'm sure the Toyota engineers are just as frustrated as the rest of us at being held back like this.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why don't they just use a larger NiMH pack to make the plugin Prius? This battery is cheaper than Li ion and has a 12 year track record in the Prius already, with no problems. The only reason Toyota didn't make a plugin Prius despite TWELVE YEARS on the road (and Ianyonecan buy a NiMH charger for $15 in your local corner store) is because of Chevron's patent infringement lawsuit which prevented them from doing so. Now, Chevron no longer owns the patent and Toyota should enter negotiations with Samsung to make a plugin NiMH Prius with a 20 km electric range.
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