Not news: Toyota's developing a plug-in hybrid based on the third-generation Toyota Prius. News: Toyota is releasing 500 of them into the wild by the end of 2009.
Of that total, 200 will go to Japan, 150 to the U.S., and 150 to Europe. (France is a confirmed recipient, with Germany, Holland, and the U.K. on the short list.) All will be leased, and most will be put to governmental and corporate use.
Nifty as that may be, the real news for green car fans is the vehicle's use of lithium-ion batteries, which can store more electricity than the nickel-metal hydride batteries commonly found in today's hybrids. Details about the vehicle's recharging mechanism haven't yet been made public, but last time we saw it, the car got its juice from a special plug. Toyota has said that it's working on a system that would allow the vehicle to recharge via a standard wall outlet, which would certainly help on the infrastructure end.
If you'd like a refresher, here's a clip of the prototype in action. Warning: all that wrapping may be a little kawaii for a Thursday morning.