PLUG-IN PRIUS PLUGGING FORWARD

Written by gary on June 16th, 2010
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Toyota Motor Sales presented A Silicon Valley California Leadership Group three plug-in Prius hybrid cars on June 15, 2010.Plug-in_Prius

Toyota will ultimately loan 150 of the cars to organizations nationwide for the next 18 months to see how they perform on the road. The results will help Toyota spot any kinks in the plug-in Prius before it goes on sale in 2012. The leadership group, a public policy organization representing more than 300 of the valley’s top companies, got the first three.

An advanced technology manager for Toyota stated that the education and feedback will be invaluable to Toyota as the Company readies the  vehicle for market introduction.

The president of the leadership group, will drive one of the  three cars. It’s reported the gentleman commutes to work by bicycle, but will drive the Prius to business meetings and put his Volvo up for sale on Craigslist. He plans to drive the loaner for the next 18 months and then buy a plug-in Prius when they hit the market.

Like the regular Prius, the plug-in still uses gasoline. But it comes with a more powerful, lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged at home or at work. With a full charge, the car will drive exclusively on electricity for 13 miles before the gasoline motor kicks in. The regular Prius will go exclusively on electricity for a half mile.

Toyota has had an off-and-on history with plug-in cars.

The company made an electric version of the Rav4 from 1997 to 2003. But for most of the past decade, its executives argued that hybrids were better suited to the mass market, having a greater range over  higher priced all-electric cars.

That attitude appears to be changing as Toyota’s Chairman announces more exciting cars with higher efficiencies. Toyota’s competitors are rushing forward with plug-in hybrids, such as General Motors’ Chevy Volt, and all-electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf.

As reported last month, Toyota announced a surprise deal with Tesla Motors of Palo Alto, which makes luxury electric sports cars. Sometime in the next two years, the two companies plan to create an electric car that Tesla’s chief executive described as a Toyota vehicle with a Tesla power train.

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