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Toyota preps plug-in Prius for mass production

First models to appear in 2011

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Leccy Tech Mass production of a plug-in Toyota Prius could start within two years, it’s been reported.

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The first Toyota Prius PHEVs should appear in 2011

The first production Prius PHEV cars will appear in 2011, according to the Japanese newspaper Nikkei, with Toyota expecting to shift between 20,000 and 30,000 of the vehicles within the first 12 months.

To put this into context, Toyota's hybrid Prius sales for North America in 2008 came in at just under 160,000 units alone.

The main difference between the Prius PHEV and the standard model is a higher capacity lithium-ion unit, instead f the nickel-metal hydride battery. It is possible to recharge the PHEV from a wall plug.

A full charge will reportedly power the Prius PHEV for up to 30km (18 miles), without the help of the internal combustion engine.

That's assuming that the battery pack fitted into the production version is similar to that inside the 500 prototype vehicles which Toyota is currently running through trials in Japan, Europe and North America.

The Prius PHEV's electric-only range falls far short of the 40 miles that a Chevrolet Volt should be capable of travelling on from a full plug-in charge. So it is reasonable to assume that the final production version of Toyota’s motor will receive a range boost before sales start.

One thing we can be sure of is that Toyota will charge a premium for the new Prius PHEV. The car’s anticipated price in Japan is ¥4.5m (£29,200/$47,800/€34,200), more than twice the standard model’s 2m (£15,900/$26,000/€18,600).

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