Toyota has confirmed a limited trial of a Plug-in version of its Prius hybrid in 2010.
The Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) has an extended electricity-only operating range, it’s the first Toyota to use lithium-ion batteries and, as the name suggests, it can be charged via an external source as well as by its own petrol engine.
The gains in efficiency are said to reduce CO2 emissions to just 59g/km according to EU testing cycles, though there’s no official fuel economy claim as yet.
Plug-in Prius advantage: extended range
In addition to the option for external charging – which can be performed by a household socket, although other faster charging infrastructures are being explored – it’s the lithium-ion batteries that make a big difference to the Prius PHV.
These allow the car to travel longer distances on electric motor power – though an approximate range has not officially been given (though it’s rumoured to be just 13 miles) with a maximum electric-only speed of around 62mph. When the batteries run out, the Prius PHV simply switches to its usual 1.8-litre petrol engine to continue the journey.
The advantage to a plug-in hybrid, as opposed to a pure electricity-only vehicle, is that the fall-back method of petrol propulsion means it does not require an extensive electric charging infrastructure to function effectively.
However, one of Toyota’s key goals with this vehicle is to help explore electric charging infrastructure development.
Not for general sale – yet
Toyota will ‘introduce’ around 600 Prius PHVs in the first half of 2010, distributing them between Japan, the USA, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
Just 20 will be coming the UK in the middle of 2010, but you won’t be able to buy one. Instead they will be going to government ministries, local governments, corporations, universities and research agencies.
The plan is to gather real-world driving data, as well as spur charging infrastructure development, ahead of moving to begin sales of ‘tens of thousands of units to the general public in 2011.’
The road to sustainable mobility
Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota Motor Corporation Executive Vice President said: ‘The Plug-in Hybrid is a key driver on our road towards sustainable mobility.’
‘Based on Toyota’s full hybrid powertrain, PHV represents today the most practical way of increasing the use of electricity for personal transport. Now we need to investigate market acceptance of this new technology.’
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