Hybrid vehicles are a big deal, reducing oil consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. But plug-in hybrids are even better, especially since electricity is cheaper and the CO2 is localized to a power plant where, theoretically, it could be captured and sequestered. Plug-in hybrid vehicles are like your standard hybrid, but you can plug your car into a 240 V wall socket to charge up the batteries so that you run the car for the first few miles exclusively on electric power. This would keep the car running on battery power for those 20 minute jaunts to the grocery store or liquor store. And now the first commercially-developed plug-in hybrid is being developed by Toyota.
Toyota’s new Prius Plug-In HV has been approved for road testing in Japan. The car only gets 8 miles on a single charge due to the batteries, but given that the present Prius would only get about 2 miles, this is still a significant improvement. I won’t speak for anyone else, but my nearest grocery store is less than 4 miles away, so I could go to and from my grocery store without this new Prius ever turning on the internal combustion engine to recharge the batteries.
The Prius has also been successfully retrofitted with plug-in lithium-ion batteries by at least one company, EDrive Systems, if you don’t want to wait for the official Prius Plug-In HV release.