Saturday, January 16, 2010

Toyota Officially Launches Prius Plug-in Hybrid Trial Cars

After its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, Toyota launched its Prius Plug-in Hybrid in Japan on Monday. Approximately 600 units of the car will be leased to government agencies, corporations, universities and research agencies primarily in Japan, the United States, and Europe over the first half of 2010.

Around 230 cars will go to Japan, with 200 heading to Europe and around 150 to the States. Toyota said that it is also considering to lease some cars in countries in other regions, such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Based on the third-generation Prius Hybrid, the Plug-in trial version replaces the standard model's nickel-metal hydride battery pack with a compact high-output lithium-ion battery that can be fully recharged from a 230V power supply in 1.5 hours.

Aside from reducing CO2 emission to less than 60g/km and further improving the car's fuel economy, Toyota says that due to the battery's larger capacity, the vehicle has an extended electric-vehicle driving range covering around 20km or 12.5 miles in pure electric mode, which is about 10km or six miles more than the 'conventional' Prius hybrid.

Over longer distances, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid switches to conventional petrol-electric full hybrid operation.

Another advantage of the system is that the plug-in Prius can achieve speeds of up to a maximum 100km/h (62mph) in full-electric mode.

The Japanese automaker plans to use data generated during the use of the test cars to help develop a retail plug-in hybrid model within the next two years.

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