Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept -- Click above for high-res image gallery

Toyota is getting ready to start deploying a fleet of 200 plug-in Prius hybrids in the coming months and the company needs to figure out what to do with them. The cars will all be leased for purposes of field testing. Toyota is now in discussions with federal and local governments and energy companies about who will get how many of the lithium ion battery Priuses. The company is looking for towns and cities that are, "actively promoting environmentally considerate vehicles."

The PHEV Prius will be able to go up to 62 mph on electricity alone for about 5 miles. Another 150 examples of the PHEV will be leased here in the U.S., with a similar number going to Europe. The first cars will be delivered in mid-December and Toyota has previously announced plans to start retail sales in about 2012.

Related GalleryFrankfurt 2009: Toyota Plug-In Prius

[Source: Toyota]


PRESS RELEASE:

'Prius Plug-in Hybrid' Lease Discussions Begin in Japan

-Potential Users Selected from 'EV & PHV Towns' Program-

Tokyo-TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announces that it has started discussions with potential users in Japan of the newly developed "Prius Plug-in Hybrid". Approximately 200 units will be leased through a leasing company to designated parties such as government ministries, local governments and energy companies that are actively promoting environmentally considerate vehicles.

The designated parties are principally participants in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's "EV & PHV Towns" program1, which aims to promote the widespread use of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs).

Details of the leasing scheme for Japan will be determined through November, with delivery scheduled for mid-December onward. The vehicles will only be leased to parties already designated by TMC.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid is based on the third-generation "Prius" and is equipped with a lithium-ion battery that can be charged using an external electric power source. The vehicle can be used as an EV for short distances, while for medium- and long-distance trips it functions as a conventional gasoline-electric hybrid, meaning use is not constrained by remaining battery power or availability of battery-charging infrastructure. Furthermore, PHVs, such as the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, are expected to achieve higher fuel efficiency than conventional hybrid vehicles, limit consumption of fossil fuels, and reduce CO2 emissions and atmospheric pollution.

TMC believes that, to meet the diversification of energy sources, PHVs are currently the most-suitable environmentally considerate vehicles for widespread use. TMC is therefore encouraging PHV market introduction and understanding toward widespread use by introducing a total of 500 units of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid globally-primarily to fleet customers. Approximately 150 units will go to the United States, and more than 150 units will go to Europe, to countries including France, the United Kingdom and Portugal.

TMC has positioned hybrid technologies as core environmentally considerate vehicle technologies and is using them in the development not only of plug-in hybrid vehicles but also electric vehicles and fuel-cell hybrid vehicles. TMC will continue its efforts in developing and putting into practical use these next-generation vehicles, which are hoped to contribute to reducing petroleum consumption, reducing CO2 emissions and responding to the diversification of energy sources.

1An intensive model program, through the collaboration of the national and local governments, regional businesses and auto manufacturers in Japan, for the introduction and promotion of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as for accelerating the setting up of charging infrastructures and the development of societal awareness and preparedness. Each participating local government is to submit by around the end of this financial year a master plan that reflects the progress of its action plan.