Toyota Preps 150 PHEV Plug-In Prius Hybrids for Europe

By dancurranjr On March 9th, 2009

prius-phevIt’s important to have a broad perspective in the auto business – tunnel-vision has been one of the biggest criticism of the American carmakers. But seeing beyond the trees of economic meltdown to view the forest of the future industry is easier said than done. Toyota, however, is demonstrating its aplomb by moving forward with a plan to bring 150 plug-in hybrids to Europe this year.

Another 350 of the cars will follow in 2010, as the company ramps up for production of a pure lithium-ion battery electric vehicle by 2012. “We have to look beyond the current financial crisis. We have to focus on r&d for today and the future,” Toyota Europe CEO Tadashi Aarashima told Automotive News in Geneva.

Diesel is already a very popular fuel in Europe, and it has shown it can offer similar fuel efficiency figures to hybrids – in some cases, even better. But Toyota is not focusing on diesel in Europe or elsewhere, seeing hybrid tech as the way forward.

Emissions rules, fuel pricing and technology cost are all pointing toward hybrid success in the future, says Arashima.

The plug-in Prius being tested in the UK and elsewhere are averaging 65mpg in the combined cycle. That’s a 30% improvement over the standard 2010 Prius, recently certified as the most efficient hybrid in America. On the other hand, some are arguing plug-in hybrids may be too expensive to justify, though Toyota’s tack seems to be headed in the right direction.

The 150 plug-ins headed to Europe will be complemented by another 150 already planned for the U.S. in 2009.

SOURCE: Motor Authority

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