Thursday, July 26, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 11:18 PM

(AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara -

The race to come up with the first production plug-in hybrid vehicle heats up as Toyota announced that it already has a PHEV ready for testing. The announcement made by Toyota means that it now leads major automakers in the development of a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Plug-in hybrid vehicles are essentially hybrid vehicles. By plugging in a PHEV into an electric socket, its battery pack can be recharged. In comparison, the Volt’s battery pack is expected to power the vehicle for 64 kilometers.

The automaker announced that they will be using eight units of the plug-in hybrid vehicle in their tests. Toyota’s Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto said that the commercial release of plug-in hybrid vehicles depend largely on the development of efficient batteries for automotive application. Aside from developing a Li-ion battery pack for the new generation Prius, Toyota will now also be looking to equip their PHEV with a Li-ion battery pack.

With Toyota spending millions on Li-ion battery development, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cruising range of the PHEV is increased. We might be surprised if one day Nissan came up with a PHEV that was better than the Volt and the imaginatively named Toyota Plug-in HV.

The plug-in hybrid vehicles will take to the roads of Berkeley and Irvine. The Japanese automaker will become the first major automaker to test PHEVs on American roads. This type of vehicles is recommended for city driving where constant acceleration and deceleration is needed.

PHEVs are arguably the next step for automakers to take in their quest to come up with eco-friendly vehicles.

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