Toyota Banks on ‘Affordable’ Prius Plug-in Hybrid

December 14, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Toyota announced on Monday, its ambitious plans to produce tens of thousands of the next generation Prius plug-in hybrid. As other automakers are setting their sights on all-electric vehicles that give off zero polluting carbon emissions, Toyota, the world’s largest mass producer of automobiles, is banking on the ease and affordability of a plug-in hybrid that can recharge on a standard electrical outlet.

The new Prius plug-in-hybrid will be equipped with lithium-ion batteries, which cost more but can store more energy than the standard nickel-metal hydride batteries. The new plug-in would be capable of travelling about 14.5 miles on electricity alone and about 870 miles on a full charge and a full tank of gas.

Toyota Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada, believes the Prius plug-in hybrid would eliminate the “range anxiety” that many drivers experience when travelling with an all-electric vehicle. “Toyota believes that plug-in hybrids are a realistic solution among vehicles using electricity,” Uchiyamada said.

With the expected all-electric vehicles soon to be produced by Nissan and other automakers, Toyota, as well as GM with it’s upcoming plug-in hybrid, the Volt, would give consumers another option. Although all-electric vehicles produce zero carbon emissions, the range of the vehicles are limited, without access to a recharging station.

The Japanese automaker plans to launch the Prius plug-in-hybrid within the next two years. And at first, will produce about several tens of thousands of cars a year

Before the new plug-ins roll off of the assembly lines in 2011, Toyota will offer around 600 of the vehicles free of charge, in Japan, Europe, the U.S. and other markets beginning next year. Cities in the US can expect to see about 150 of the new Prius plug-in-hybrids to rent for free, to provide the automaker with data the company will use to improve the vehicle before the roll out.

The base-market price of a Prius plug-in-hybrid is expected to be fall under $33,770, according to Toyota’s executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada.

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