Toyota will begin leasing the plug-in version of its Prius hybrid to large government and business clients today, and plans to sell tens of thousands across the globe when it starts retail sales in 2011. The new vehicle, which charges from a regular household electrical outlet, can run about 14.5 miles on a charge before the standard hybrid powertrain kicks in. And it will be “affordable,” an exec tells Bloomberg.
Defining “affordable,” of course, is a little tricky. The Prius currently starts at around $22,000, and a conversion kit that turns it into a plug-in model costs around $10,000—so the exec says the new model should cost less than the total. The plug-in model utilizes a novel lithium-ion battery provided by Panasonic, and fuel economy is estimated at around 57mpg.