Toyota Announces Plan to Sell New Plug-in Hybrid in US, Japan and Europe

Associated Press reported that Toyota has announced plans to sell a plug-in hybrid vehicle in the U.S., Japan and Europe in 2012.  The company is forecasting 50,000 vehicles a year at an approximate price of $36,000.
A 2012 rollout would coincide with the introduction of new HOV lane stickers in CA for a new class of plug-in hybrids.    The Toyota plug-in hybrid looks to be a direct competitor to Chevy’s Volt, but the Volt will have at least a year’s head start.
We’ll pass along more details when we get them.

Chevy Volt Won’t Get Carpool Lane Privileges Until 2012

As expected, the new Chevy Volt will not qualify for current HOV lane stickers, but should earn the privileges when new stickers are issued in 2012.

After recent tests, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has designated the Chevy Volt as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV).   That’s actually not any better than most new cars these days, and not even as good as the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata, Honda CR-Z and Honda Civic Hybrid, which are rated PZEV  (Partial-credit Zero-Emissions Vehicle).  Today’s carpool hybrids, the Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid are classified a notch better as “AT PZEV”, for Advanced Technology Partial-credit Zero-Emissions Vehicle.

Even though the Volt can go 25+ miles using only it’s electric engine, it still has a gasoline engine onboard, and CARB’s tests only consider the emissions from the gas engine.  This type of testing clearly does not consider the benefits of a plug-in hybrid, and new testing methodology will have to be developed.

It’s likely that by 2012, the Volt will qualify for the new class of “Enhanced” AT PZEV vehicles and earn the right to get one of 40,000 new HOV lane stickers that will be issued for the new class that will include plug-in hybrids.

Meanwhile, the Nissan Leaf will qualify for current white HOV lane stickers, because it is considered a ZEV (zero emission vehicle).   There won’t be a shortage of white decals, but demand for the Leaf is expected to exceed supply when it first comes out.