Plug-in Prius and Smart Center tech coming in 2012  (Source: Toyota)
Smart Center will offer control over charging of the hybrid and more

Toyota is one of the most successful carmakers on the planet when it comes to selling hybrid automobiles. The carmaker has plans to bring new fleets of plug-in hybrid vehicles to the market over the next few years with plug-in hybrids going on sale in Japan in early 2012.

Toyota will undoubtedly sell lots of its plug-in hybrids in Japan; it has already sold a million Prius hybrids in Japan alone since it was introduced in the late 1990s. Toyota is also getting a smart-grid technology ready to launch alongside the plug-in hybrids in 2012. The new smart-grid tech is called the Toyota Smart Center and it will allow the user of a Toyota plug-in hybrid to access information about their use of energy in their home and by the hybrid from a mobile phone or a TV in the home.

Information that the Smart Center will offer includes the amount of power consumed by the home, how much a hybrid vehicle has charged, and how much power has been stored at the home. The Smart Center will then calculate the most efficient way to use the energy that is available to save power and reduce pollution. It will be able to turn things off that are charging and use power when rates are the lowest.

Toyota reckons that the Smart Center could help reduce the power used in a home by 75%. The Smart Center will only work with Toyota vehicles making it a niche product and Toyota offers no hint at the cost of the system. The Smart Center is currently being tested in Rokkasho in northern Japan and so far, there are no plans for the system in other countries.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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