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Toyota to Lease 200 PHEVs in Japan Starting at End of 2009, 500 Globally; Gen3 Prius Plus Li-ion Pack

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) will begin leasing approximately 200 plug-in versions of its third-generation Prius (earlier post) equipped with lithium-ion battery packs in Japan starting at the end of this year. This will be the first time a lithium-ion battery is to be employed in a Toyota vehicle for propulsion.

The leases will be to designated users such as government ministries, local governments and corporations. This brings the initial planned global deployment of early plug-ins—primarily to fleet customers—to approximately 500 units.

TMC will introduce approximately 150 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the United States, as well as more than 150 vehicles in Europe, including 100 in France. TMC is also considering introducing plug-in hybrid vehicles in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany.

In announcing the Japan lease program, Toyota said that:

TMC believes that, in response to the diversification of energy sources, plug-in hybrid vehicles are currently the most suitable environmentally considerate vehicles for widespread use.

TMC has positioned hybrid technologies as core environmentally considerate vehicle technologies and is using them in the development not only of plug-in hybrid vehicles but also electric vehicles and fuel-cell hybrid vehicles. TMC will continue its efforts to achieve sustainable mobility by developing and putting into practical use these next-generation vehicles, which are hoped to contribute to reducing petroleum consumption, reducing CO2 emissions and responding to the diversification of energy sources.

Toyota said that the plug-ins will operate as electric vehicles when used for “short distances” and operate as conventional hybrids when used for medium to long-distance trips.

Toyota has been testing an earlier plug-in prototype featuring a large NiMH pack rather than the proposed Li-ion pack, with an electric range of approximately 13 km (8 miles) under the Japan 10-15 cycle (Earlier post.)

The Japan lease program is in collaboration with local governments selected under the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s EV & PHV Towns program, which aims to promote the widespread use of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The program features an intensive program for the introduction and promotion of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as accelerating the setting up of charging infrastructures and the development of societal awareness and preparedness through the collaboration of the national and local governments, regional businesses and auto manufacturers in Japan.

Action plans are expected to be developed this summer by each participating local government, and a master action plan based on the results of each program is expected to be developed at the end of this fiscal year.

Comments

TM

Anyone know if the electric engine is beefed up in these plug-ins vs. what the Prius is currently using?

TM

I'll answer my own question:

"TMC is developing a plug-in hybrid vehicle—based on the third-generation “Prius”— equipped with a lithium-ion battery that can be charged via external power sources such as household electricity."

I believe the purpose of this experiment is to gain experience with the Li batteries.

Driving the current Prius on battery mode is no fun. Its great if you don't have to go over 35mph AND if you do not have to accelerate - like driving that last mile or two to your garage.

I also suppose it will help with MPG when using it in normal driving mode as the battery has a smaller chance of getting depleted before you can go downhill somewhere and get a free recharge.

Davemart

Hi TM,
Toyota aren't that daft. They know reasonable performance and range will be needed for the plug-in, although the GM Volt probably goes OTT with a 40 mile range, which adds a lot to the cost and is aimed at the US market.
Toyota test ran some standard Prius's set up with an extra bank of NiMH batteries, and promise that the Lithium plug-in will double the 7 mile range to 14 miles minimum.
They were getting up to 62mph before the petrol engine kicked in:
http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2008/01/prius-plug-in.html

HarveyD

Early PHEVs should have optional modular battery packs to lower the initial purchase price.

Most buyers could start with a small 5 Kwh pack and add one, two or three more modules when the price is lower an perormance is better.

SJC

If a Ford Fusion PHEV had plug in packs and did 45 mph on electric, it would be a winner. Start off with 4kwh and put in 4kwh increments. If Ford wants to be responsive to what the public want, they will do this.

TM

How many of you own a Prius?

Andrey Levin

Toyota’s experimental PHEV Prius has beefed-up electric motors, changed gear ratio of such motors, uprated power electronics, and, naturally, battery. PHEV Prius is capable of highway speed and much better acceleration in pure electric mode than basic Prius.

TM

Andrey - that makes much more sense.

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