Wednesday, 08 July 2009 09:39

Plug in Prius will be mass produced in 2012

Toyota plans to launch its new plug-in Prius with lithium-ion batteries this year. Reuters is reporting that Toyota will start mass-producing its plug-in version of its Prius hybrid in 2012, with plans to make 20,000 to 30,000 of the vehicles that year.

The Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported that Toyota said it intends to bring about 500 of the new plug-in version of its best-selling hybrid to fleet customers by the end of 2009 and will test the vehicles in a French government fleet.

Reuters reported that Toyota plans to sell its new plug-in Prius at a price close to that of Mitsubishi's promised all-electric car, which will be sold to fleet customers in Japan this month for about 4.59 million yen ($47,800). That's without government subsidies of roughly $15,000 in Japan, which would lower the cost to buyers to about $30,000.

The new plug-in Prius will be powered by lithium-ion batteries developed and built in a joint venture with Panasonic EV Energy Co. That's a departure from the nickel metal hydride batteries in the gasoline-electric Prius hybrids on the road now.

The plug-in Prius will be able to go about 12 to 18 miles on battery power alone before its gasoline-powered engine kicks in, according to Reuters.

General Motors plans to have its plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt on sale late next year. Ford has also said it will have a plug-in hybrid vehicle by 2012, though it will precede those with an all-electric commercial van in 2010 and an all-electric passenger car in 2011.

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