New Toyota lithium-ion plug-in Prius goes 13 miles on a single charge…Really

OK, so here's a riddle for all you green car types.

What uses a lithium-ion battery pack and goes 13 miles on a single charge and…get this…can do 60 miles per hour using only battery power alone?

If you guessed the Tesla Roadster you'd be oh so wrong.

No, the answer is the all new Toyota plug-in Prius that was just introduced at the LA Auto Show.

Toyota didn't make a big deal of the car's LA Auto Show intro perhaps because it is still testing it, or perhaps because it only goes 13-MILES on full charge. (After that the gas engine kicks in to recharge the battery)

If you like your glass half full, this might be a good time to point out that the 13 mile all electric range of the plug-in Prius is 12 miles more than the current model can do using just the electric engine.

And don't even think about going 60 mph in non plug-in Prius using electricity alone. The gas engine will spring to life long before you floor it getting on the on ramp.

Toyota plans to build 350 of the 2010 Plug-in cars and test them around the world.

Ten of the lithium-ion battery equipped cars are coming to Boulder, Colorado for cold weather testing.

So all of you People's Republic of Boulder types get in line now to be the lucky ten to have the only plug-in Prius in your neighborhood.

Follow on twitter @TFLcar or watch latest car review videos on YouTube.

The official Toyota Press Release is below:

2010 Prius Plug-in Hybrid Makes North American Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show

  • Global Demonstration Program Starts this Month in Japan
  • Assembly Line Production of 500 Lithium-ion Batteries Begins

TORRANCE, Calif., December 2, 2009 — The 2010 Toyota Prius
Plug-in Hybrid vehicle (PHV) will make it's North American debut today
at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Built specifically to support
a global demonstration program that begins this month, the Prius PHV is
based on the third-generation Prius. The vehicle expands Toyota's
Hybrid Synergy Drive technology with the introduction of a first
generation lithium-ion battery that enables all-electric operation at
higher speeds and longer distances than the conventional Prius hybrid.
When fully charged, the vehicle is targeted to achieve a maximum
electric-only range of approximately 13 miles and will be capable of
achieving highway speeds up to 60 mph in electric-only mode. For longer
distances, the Prius PHV reverts to "hybrid mode" and operates like a
regular Prius. This ability to utilize all-electric power for short
trips or hybrid power for longer drives alleviates the issue of limited
cruising range encountered with pure electric vehicles.

Beginning later this month, a total of 350 vehicles will begin delivery
in Japan and Europe in support of model programs with business and
government partners aimed at raising societal awareness of, and
preparedness for, this important new technology.

early next year, 150 vehicles will start arriving in the U.S., where
they will be placed in regional clusters with select partners for
market/consumer analysis and technical demonstration.

On the
consumer side, the U.S. program will allow Toyota to gather real world
vehicle-use feedback to better understand customer expectations for
plug-in technology. On the technical side, the program aims to confirm,
in a wide variety of real world applications, the overall performance
of first-generation lithium-ion battery technology, while spurring the
development of public-access charging station infrastructure.

All vehicles will be equipped with data retrieval devices which will
monitor activities such as how often the vehicle is charged and when;
whether the batteries are depleted or being topped off during charging;
trip duration, all-EV driving range, combined mpg and so on.

"This program is a necessary first step in societal preparation, in
that it allows us the unique opportunity to inform, educate and prepare
customers for the introduction of plug-in hybrid technology," said Irv
Miller, TMS group vice president, environmental and public affairs.
"When these vehicles come to market, customers must understand what to
expect and if this technology is the right fit for them."

October, Toyota announced its first regional program partnership with
Xcel Energy's SmartGridCity program in Boulder, Colo. Ten PHVs will be
placed with Boulder residents who will participate in an
interdisciplinary research project coordinated by the University of
Colorado at Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI),
a new joint venture between the U.S. Department of Energy's National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado at

RASEI, Xcel Energy and TMS will use this program to
gather data on vehicle performance and charging patterns, consumer
behavior and preferences, as well as electric utility/customer
interactions. The locale offers the additional benefit of monitoring
high altitude, cold climate performance of Toyota's first generation
lithium-ion battery.

Additional partners will be announced
soon. Regional programs are currently slated for California, Washington
D.C., New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Each placement scenario will
have a variety of 'use cases' or driving conditions to gain maximum
input to vehicle performance and customer needs.

To assist
with customer education, Toyota has launched a PHV demonstration
program website – At the site, visitors can learn
more about the technology, follow the program's progress and, once the
vehicles are deployed, track the performance of the demonstration
program fleet. This transparent communication of vehicle performance
and real world data will allow customers to make informed decisions
when considering the purchase of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

It's All About The Battery
The battery powering the Prius PHV is the first lithium-ion
drive-battery developed by Toyota and its joint venture battery
production company, Panasonic Electric Vehicle Energy (PEVE). In early
November, PEVE began producing the first of more than 500 lithium
batteries on a dedicated assembly line at its Teiho production facility
in Japan.

PEVE is the world's leading producer of nickel-metal
hydride batteries for automotive drive applications, having surpassed
two million units in total production volume. Nickel-metal batteries
are ideal for mass producing affordable conventional hybrid vehicles
due to their low cost, excellent quality, high reliability and
moderate-demand charge-sustaining operation. Lithium-ion batteries, on
the other hand, are more promising for pure electric and plug-in hybrid
applications which require higher energy density to meet the higher
demands of charge-depleting operation (large swings in
charge/discharge). And, although lithium-ion batteries are less
expensive in terms of materials, they are more expensive than
nickel-metal in terms of production costs.

first-generation lithium battery has undergone more than three years of
coordinated field testing in Japan, North America and Europe in a wide
variety of climatic environments and driving conditions. Using
approximately 150 conventional hybrids (mostly Prius), the field test
vehicles logged well over a million combined miles. In the end, the
battery was deemed both reliable and durable, confirming that it could
indeed be used in conventional hybrid applications in the future,
depending on further developments in cost reduction.

battery will now be placed into service in the 500 Prius PHVs dedicated
to Toyota's global demonstration program which begins in December.
Operating in a more severe charge-depleting mode, the battery's overall
performance in a broad range of vehicle-use applications will be