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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota has confirmed that it will sell an “affordable” plug-in hybrid from 2011 that will undercut the Chevrolet Volt.

Although not strictly specified by Toyota, the car is widely expected to be the Prius PHV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle) – 100 of which have been leased from this month in environmentally-advanced Strasbourg, France.

Toyota executive vice president and R&D chief, Takeshi Uchiyamada, suggested the price of the new plug-in was likely to fall well below 3 million yen (AUD$37,300), close to $7000 cheaper than the $44,000 Volt.

“Nowadays in the United States, they sell [plug-in hybrid] aftermarket kits for about 1 million yen ($12,400).

“Of course, we would have to do much better than that as a mass producer,” he said.

Combining plug-in technology with the already frugal hybrid system of the Prius gives outstanding results in terms of efficiency and emissions.

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The Prius PHV can cover 23.4km operating as an electric-only vehicle, but that range is extended to a theoretical 1400km after a full charge and with a full tank of petrol on board.

Combined EV and hybrid fuel economy is just 1.76 litres/100km, while emissions top out at 59g/km CO2 under European testing.

Toyota said running costs of travelling 30km in the PHV would be around half the price of a standard Prius if charged overnight using cheaper electricity.

A full charge takes 100 minutes at 200 volts and three hours at 100 volts.

Following the beginning of leasing programs in Strasbourg – which has 300 charging stations around the city – Toyota expects to lease up to 500 more PHVs to governments and businesses throughout Europe, Japan and the US by mid-2010.

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Meanwhile, Toyota US today announced that it will debut a brand new dedicated hybrid concept vehicle at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Details are sketchy, but Toyota has confirmed the unveiling will occur during a press conference on Monday, January 11, with more information about the launch to be released in the coming weeks.




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