11 September 2009

Prius goes plug-in

Toyota readies even-greener version of its ubiquitous hybrid. How does 60g/km of CO2 suit you?

Toyota Prius

Already beloved of the self-consciously eco-conscious, the Toyota Prius is set to become a little more green when a plug-in version of the ubiquitous hybrid is unveiled in Frankfurt.

In fact, it’ll be the cleanest car on the road when it becomes available for lease – albeit in very limited numbers – early next year, boasting official combined emissions of just 60g/km of CO2.

Instead of the standard Prius’s nickel metal hydride batteries, the plug-in uses smaller, lighter lithium-ion batteries, which store more charge and will allow the Prius to run on electric power alone for up to 12.5 miles, more than double the range of the current (sorry) car.

The biggest modification is that the plug-in can be, er, plugged into the mains, charging from a 230 volt household power supply in 90 minutes. The standard Prius recharges its batteries using power drawn from the petrol engine and energy recovered under braking.

Toyota will lease around 500 plug-in Priuses to customers around the world early next year, with a handfull expected to make it to the UK.

If you wish to be considered for the trial, necessary qualifications include the ability to drive with an expression of serene self-satisfaction upon your face. Or for you to be a Hollywood actor.

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