Toyota introduces plug-in hybrid Prius models

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Toyota has taken another step towards offering an electric vehicle with the global introduction of 600 Prius plug-in hybrids.

Europe will get 200 of the cars, with 20 making their way to the UK half way through 2010. Toyota reckons they should be good to drive around 15 miles on electric power alone – a considerable improvement on the current Prius hybrid which has an electric range of 2 miles.

The plug-in hybrids should also be able to go faster on just electric power – up to around 60mph before the engine kicks in – while the Prius will only do up to 30mph.

There is no official figure just yet, but Toyota reckons the plug-in hybrid should emit just 59g/km of CO2 and manage an average fuel economy well in excess of 100mpg. It gets the same 1.8-litre engine from the Prius for use as a backup when the battery runs out. A full charge should take around 3 hours.

Toyota won't be offering the cars for general sale, but will be leasing them to a mixture of government bodies and private companies and recording the use over a three-year period.