The UK will get just 15 of Toyota’s new plug-in Priuses when the car begins commercial trials at the end of this year, out of a total of 500 cars that Toyota is building for global use.
The plug-in Prius will be capable of being charged by plugging it directly into the mains. It will be the first Toyota to use lithium-ion batteries, which are lighter and smaller and can hold more charge than equivalent nickel metal hydride cells.
The 15 cars will go to corporate and fleet customers, including those who already run Priuses. Toyota will gather evidence about charging habits and the kind of range people really need, then use it to determine how big a plug-in car’s batteries need to be.
“Battery size equals cost,” said a Toyota UK source. “If customers don’t need a big battery, there’s no point in them paying more for it.”
It will be at least two years before Toyota puts the plug-in Prius into production. The firm isn’t willing to take a risk on (relatively) untested technology.
“We don’t need to,” said our source. “We’re already heavily associated with hybrid and alternative powertrains, so there’s no need to take a risk to establish a name for ourselves.”