WHILE TOYOTA HAS already announced the start of low-volume plug-in hybrid production, the Japanese automaker will reportedly be ramping up output of the mains-charged cars to a whopping 20,000 to 30,000 cars by 2013.
By the end of this year, 500 plug-in Priuses will be leased out to government and private fleets in the USA, Japan and Europe.
The leasing plan is to trial both the plug-in charging system and the new lithium-ion battery packs that will be introduced to Toyota's hybrid line-up in the near future.
Official full-volume production volumes have yet to be made known, but Japan's Nikkei newspaper reports that the company intends to pump out between 20,000 and 30,000 cars in 2012, its expected first year of production.
With an expected electric-only range of 20-30km, the Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV) won't be able to travel as far as all-electric cars like Mitsubishi's i MiEV before having to fire up the petrol motor.
But with the petrol engine giving drivers a more flexible vehicle that can be used for longer trips, the Prius PHV is expected to sell like hotcakes.
However, with the Chevy Volt PHV slated to hit the showrooms in late 2010 and Volvo planning its own diesel-electric plug-in for 2012, Toyota may find the PHV market to be a little more crowded than it might have otherwise hoped.