Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Covers 12 miles / 20km in All-Electric Mode, Emits Less than 60g/km CO2

As we're getting closer to the Frankfurt motor show, automakers are letting out new details on their vehicle introductions. This time it's Toyota that has released information on new its Prius plug-in hybrid that will be leased to selected fleet customers around the world from early 2010 so the company can evaluate the vehicle in a real-world environment as it prepares for a potential market launch.

Building on the core technology of Hybrid Synergy Drive in which both the electric motor and petrol engine can drive the wheels, the plug-in version replaces the standard Prius' nickel-metal hydride battery pack with a compact high-output lithium-ion battery that can be fully recharged from a 230V power supply in 1.5 hours.

The new battery, which is more compact and has a higher volumetric energy than the one it replaces allows the Prius to achieve speeds of up to a maximum 62mph (100km/h) in full-electric mode (EV).

Toyota says that on a full charge, the plug-in model it can cover around 12.5miles or 20km) in EV mode, which is six miles more than the 'conventional' Prius hybrid. Over longer distances, the car switches to conventional petrol-electric full hybrid operation.

The extended range in electric mode helps reduce CO2 emission to less than 60g/km, making the plug-in model one of the cleanest cars on the road.

According to the Japanese automaker, more than 500 Prius Plug-in cars will be released around the world early next year for lease programme, with more than 150 of those destined for the European market.