Plug-in hybrids (can be charged from an electrical socket) are currently undergoing testing around the world with the lithium ion batteries developed with Panasonic EV Energy Co.
The move towards plug-in hybrids will mark a change of direction between Honda and Toyota who have together led the hybrid charge. Honda CEO Takeo Fukui said last week that he was “not really convinced” of the need for plug-in hybrids.
Toyota's ambitions will see the company produce a hybrid variant of every Toyota model by 2020.
1 million hybrids per year sounds like an enormous target, and it is. Since Toyota introduced the Prius to the market over 10 years ago, only 1.25 million units have been sold, so to achieve the 1 million a year figure, something drastic needs to change.
Cars like the new Supra, which is rumoured to be a hybrid, may be the key to changing the perception of hybrid cars.
Meanwhile Honda is following Toyota's lead in introducing a specific hybrid-only model in 2009 to boost sales. This will be followed by a sports hybrid (the next CR-X). Honda plans to have hybrids account for 10 percent of global sales around 2010.