Toyota Motor Co. will obtain permission from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport by the end of July for the testing of a prototype plug-in Prius on public roads.
Toyota will be the first car maker to obtain permission for a plug-in hybrid test in Japan. After completing the road tests, Toyota will start building a way to market the model by leasing them to public (government and municipal) offices.
According to the report, Toyota is testing a lithium-ion battery pack in the plug-in. Earlier this year, Nikkei Business speculated that Toyota would introduce the plug-in at the Tokyo Motor Show in November.
One of their readers offered a “slightly different” interpretation:
The Ministry of Land and Transport permission is a formality. It just means registration of a type of vehicle that is not currently registered for use. Toyota will have no problems there.
Leasing to government offices in Aichi Prefecture (where Toyota HQ is based) is to gather performance data and check safety of the vehicle as a first step towards becoming the first commercial PHEV producer in the world.
The article also quoted the President of Toyota (Mr Katsuaki Watanabe) saying that among the many low pollution engine developments, such as clean diesel etc, the Hybrid is Toyota’s core technology. Their strategy is to maintain Toyota’s leading position in Hybrid technology with the PHEV which has an even lower environmental impact than existing hybrids.
Sounds to me like they will be giving it a serious push.