Toyota to start commercial production of plug-in hybrid cars in 2012

Article by Christian A., on August 26, 2010

Plug-in hybrid vehicles will be mass-produced by the Toyota Motor Corp. beginning in 2012, according to the Nikkei business daily. The projected first-year output is set to be at 20,000-30,000 units.

Toyota has revealed that by the end of this year, it will start leasing 500 plug-in cars globally, mainly for government and corporate use.

It has not confirmed when it would commercialize these cars. Compared to regular hybrids, plug-ins are cleaner as they run purely on electricity. However, the batteries make these vehicles expensive.

Toyota wants to make the price of its plug-ins comparable to Mitsubishi Motors Corp.'s all-electric car, which sells this month to fleet customers in Japan at 4.59 million yen ($47,800) before government subsidies, according further to the Nikkei daily.

The Toyota-made Prius, a gasoline-electric hybrid, which costs 2.05 million yen in Japan, actually costs less than half compared to the Mitsubishi car. Toyota's plug-ins can run 20-30 km (12.4-18.6 miles) on a fully charged battery power alone.

Toyota said that lithium-ion batteries, which were developed and produced by its joint venture with Panasonic Corp. (Panasonic EV Energy Co.), will power the car.

Toyota's plug-in hybrids would be competing against General Motors Corp.'s Chevy Volt plug-in. GM aims to launch the Volt by the end of 2010. Other plans include the production of 14 hybrid models by 2012.

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