Toyota rather unceremoniously parked their plug-in Prius hybrid prototype at its North American market debut during the LA Auto Show, while their new Sienna minivan got a royal welcome at its coming out party. At a show that saw the production-ish Chevrolet Volt appearing in public for the first time, it might have seemed likely that Toyota would have made a bigger deal of this model, but we just sort of stumbled upon it while checking out its big brother, the Lexus LFA.
The company did issue a press release, which you can read in its entirety after the jump. In it, they announce that a global demonstration program will start this month in Japan and that the first batch of 500 Lithium-Ion batteries for those vehicles is moving down the assembly line as we speak. The 2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid (PHV) uses Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive package but adds their first generation lithium-ion battery so it can go all-electric further and more quickly than a traditional hybrid. The electric-only range is just 13 miles, but the Prius PHEV will be able to run all the way up to 60 mph in electric-only mode.
Beyond that, the plug-in Prius reverts to regular hybrid mode with the gas engine and electric motor trading off depending on load and demand. The gas engine is important on this Prius PHEV and cars like the Volt because it lessens the "range anxiety" drivers might feel in a pure electric - That uneasiness that comes from thinking you could be stranded when the batteries run down.
Japan and Europe split the first batch of 350 vehicles, but early next year, the next 150 examples are coming Stateside. These first PHEV vehicles will serve as a test program for real world driving needs, kind of like the MINI E program going on right now. Toyota has already announced that Boulder, CO is going to be the first community to get some of these plug-in hybrids - a surefire way for Toyota to see how cold temps affect battery performance. You can read the rest of the presser after the jump and there's a gallery available by clicking any image below.
Photos copyright (C)2009 Frank Filipponio/Weblogs, Inc.
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