Toyota has announced that it will begin production
of 500 Prius plug-in
hybrids for a long-term test program. They will use a a first
generation lithium-ion battery that enables all-electric operation at
higher speeds and longer distances than the conventional Prius
hybrid. When fully charged, the vehicle should be able to achieve a
maximum electric-only range of approximately 13 miles (21 KM), and be
capable of achieving highway speeds of up to 60 MPH (96.5 KM/h) in
Only 150 of those hybrids will make their
way to the U.S. early next year, while 350 will go to Asia and Europe
starting this month. Toyota wants to gather real-world vehicle-use
feedback to better understand customer expectations for plug-in
technology. It also hopes to confirm real-world performance of
first-generation lithium-ion battery technology and spur the
development of public-access charging stations.
the 500 batteries started in early November by Panasonic Electric
Vehicle Energy, Toyota's joint venture which also produces the
nickel-metal hydride batteries used in all Toyota and Lexus
All of the plug-ins will be equipped with data
retrieval devices which will monitor activities such as how often the
vehicle is charged and when; whether the batteries are depleted or
being topped off during charging; trip duration, all-EV driving
range, and combined MPG.
"This program is a necessary
first step in societal preparation, in that it allows us the unique
opportunity to inform, educate and prepare customers for the
introduction of plug-in hybrid technology," said Irv Miller,
Toyota's Group Vice President for Environmental and Public Affairs.
"When these vehicles come to market, customers must understand
what to expect and if this technology is the right fit for them."