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A plug-in version of Toyota’s Prius hybrid will be available to commercial fleets later this year.
The plug-in version will be capable of running solely on electric power, with the petrol engine cutting in and powering the car when battery power runs out.
The car can then be operated as a normal hybrid with the battery being recharged while on the move and working in tandem with the petrol engine.
A Toyota source told What Car? that the early cars given to fleets will be used to analyse the type of use plug-in cars will be subjected to and to help shape cars that will go on sale to members of the public from 2011.
The plug-in Prius will be based on the all-new Toyota Prius that goes on sale in the UK this July.
The new Prius uses a 1.8-litre petrol engine (the current version uses a 1.5 unit) alongside its electric motor, and will have CO2 emissions of just 89g/km and capable of 72mpg.
Yaris-sized EV on the way, too
Toyota expects to have a full EV (electric vehicle) on sale in 2012 to rival similar vehicles from Renault and Nissan.
Toyota’s car will be slightly smaller than the current Yaris model, and feature lithium ion batteries made by a company that's jointly owned by Toyota and electronic giants Panasonic.
However, unlike Renault/Nissan, who plan to lease the batteries for their electric cars, Toyota expects its power units to be sold as part of the car package and should last as long as the car itself.
New Lexus hybrid
An all-new Lexus RX450h hybrid SUV will also go on sale in July with CO2 emissions of just 148g/km and an average of 44.8mpg. Lexus officials said that they would expect a plug-in version of the RX to be developed in due course.
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