Toyota will begin trials of its next-generation plug-in hybrid in late 2009, with 150 examples of the new car being leased to selected fleet customers across Europe, the company has announced.
The trials for the lithium-ion battery powered plug-in hybrid, based on the latest Toyota Prius, will begin Strasbourg in France by the end of the year, with the UK, Germany and the Netherlands following in mid-2010.
Although the cars will go to employees of companies such as EDF, they will be used as real-world everyday vehicles for commuting and the errands of daily life.
“We want to get as much real-world data from these tests as possible,” said a spokesman for Toyota. “For example, is the current range of 10km (6.2 miles) on electric power enough for a city-based commute?”
As well as a six-mile electric-only range, the latest Toyota plug-in hybrid can reach 62mph on electric power alone, and overall fuel economy is expected to be around 40 per cent better than a standard Prius’s, making the plug-in hybrid Toyota theoretically capable of 90-100mpg. Over the course of a 15-mile journey, Toyota claims that economy is improved by up to 60 per cent.
There are no plans to put this generation of plug-in hybrid into general production.