Tokyo, Japan – Toyota plans to begin commercial production of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in 2012, according to the Green Car Congress.

Output for the first year is estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles.

The vehicles will use lithium-ion batteries produced by Panasonic EV Energy Company (PEVE), Toyota’s joint venture with Panasonic. PEVE currently provides the NiMH battery packs for Toyota hybrid vehicles. According to the report, the 2012 PHEVs will have an all-electric range of 20 to 30 km; the company hopes to sell the new vehicles at a price comparable to Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV electric car, which will go on sale later this month at a price equivalent to about US$47,700.

The report said that Toyota foresees demand from both businesses and consumers, and plans to sell the PHEVs in the U.S., Europe and Asia as well as in Japan.

In June, Toyota announced that it will begin leasing approximately 200 plug-in versions of the new Prius in Japan, starting at the end of 2009. It will be the first time a lithium-ion battery will be used in a Toyota vehicle for propulsion.

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