Toyota Motor Corp. aims to further its lead away from General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. in the field of rechargeable cars by starting to sell affordable plug-in hybrid cars in 2011. Toyota added an external charging function and more batteries to the Prius Plug-In Hybrid (PHV), its first plug-in model, to enable longer-distance driving on electricity alone.
Many consider range anxiety as a main shortcoming of battery-powered full-electric cars but the plug-in hybrids, which also run on gasoline, have eliminated that problem.
The Prius is rivaled by GM's Volt, which will go on sale next year. When using only the electric motor, the Prius PHV can travel 23.4 km or 14.5 miles, which means that zero emissions is possible on the short commute.
If Prius PHV is given a full tank of gas and is fully charged too, the car will be able to travel 1400km or 870 miles. On the other hand, another competitor, Nissan's Leaf electric car can go 160km (about 100 miles) on a single charge.
The Leaf will be available in 2010. Toyota, which is proud of its status as the world's biggest automaker and top seller of gasoline-electric hybrid cars, aims to sell "several tens of thousands" of plug-in hybrid cars to consumers in an "affordable" price range.