Toyota has been a late and cautious entrant into the field of plug-in vehicles, gradually rolling out a small fleet of Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid versions of the third-generation Prius.
But for the first time, the company has announced that it will put the car on sale to regular consumers.
The date is 2011--which probably means it'll be a 2012 model--and Toyota promises the car will be offered at "affordable" price premium, which may be as little as $5,000 over the cost of a standard 2010 Toyota Prius.
Meanwhile, an expanded fleet of 600 units will go into test use by governments and businesses in Japan, the United States, and Europe during the first half of 2010. That's 100 more than the 500 that had previously been announced.
The U.S. will receive approximately 150 units, with most of those going to government agencies, corporations, universities and research agencies for use in a demonstration program aimed at collecting driving data and spurring the development of battery-charging infrastructure.
Other countries in the program include Japan, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The Prius Plug-in Hybrid has an electric-only driving range of up to 14 miles, and returns a claimed fuel economy of about 134 mpg--though that number depends greatly on how it's driven and how often the engine has to switch on.
The vehicle can be recharged by plugging it into an external power source such as a household electric outlet, and is the first Toyota to feature a lithium-ion battery pack.
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