Yesterday, in Tokyo, Popular Mechanics was briefed on Toyota's plug-in hybrid plans. The upshot is that "their plug-in development program was under way and that it may not wait for lithium-ion battery technology to mature." That means that the first plug-in consumer Priuses will likely use nickel metal hydride batteries, just like the current crop of demo PHEV Priuses (currently being tested in Japan and France).

Over in Tokyo, Popular Mechanics took the plug-in Prius for a four-lap ride and discovered it has an all-electric range of about seven miles, a top all-electric speed of 62 mph (this we knew) and recharges in 3-4 hours from a 110-volt outlet. When the next-gen Prius bows in 2009, Popular Mechanics says, it "will almost certainly use a plug-in system. The car may launch as a normal hybrid and later, once the lithium ion battery technology is ready, switch to plug-in capability. Or, it may be a plug-in from the beginning using a large NiMh pack and switch to lithium ion later. We think the latter may be true because we've heard rumors that the vehicle architecture is being designed for both battery types." The confusion continues.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]

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