The reason we just got to drive the new plug-in Prius hybrid in San Diego is because Toyota is introducing the vehicle to the U.S. during the company's second Sustainable Mobility Seminar (see our full coverage of the first event, held in 2008 in Portland, OR here, here and here). Now that the event is in full-swing, the company has announced some more details about how and where the car will come to the U.S.
150 units will be used across the U.S. by "universities, corporations, city, state and federal governments, car sharing programs and other subject matter experts." Some of the groups that will get PHEV Priuses are: Qualcomm, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Southern California Air Quality Management District, University of California, Berkeley, University of Colorado, and Portland State University. There will be more groups announced in the future.
Also included in the press release of this announcement (find it after the jump) is some more information about the PHEV's three-part lithium-ion battery pack:
The first generation lithium-ion drive battery's unique composition is the key to the PHVs expanded all-electric power. The battery is composed of three packs, one main battery and two additional packs. At vehicle start, the PHV operates in all-electric mode, drawing electrical power directly from battery pack one. When pack one's battery charge is depleted, it disconnects from the circuit and pack two engages and supplies electrical energy to the motor. When pack two is depleted it disconnects from the circuit and the system defaults to conventional hybrid mode, using the main battery as the sole electrical power source. Pack one and pack two will not reengage in tandem with the main battery pack until the vehicle is plugged in and charged.
Toyota has also started up a new ESQ Communications website (that's Enviriomental, Safety, Quality to the rest of us) with all sorts of details on the seminar, the PHEV Prius program and more.