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Japan: UPDATE 3-Toyota aims to take on EVs with plug-in Prius hybrid

Toyota starts taking orders for Prius PHV in Japan

* Prius PHV starts at Y3.2 mln, less than Nissan Leaf EV

* Strong yen to hit profitability for U.S., Europe sales

By Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp said it would start taking orders for its first plug-in hybrid car, the Prius PHV, in Japan on Tuesday, touting it as the world’s most practical green car and aiming to steal thunder from pure battery-powered vehicles.

Unveiling the production-ready car ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show this week, Toyota said the rechargeable Prius PHV would be priced from 3.2 million yen ($41,000) in Japan, higher than what it had flagged two years ago but cheaper than Nissan Motor Co’s Leaf electric car, which costs 3.76 million yen before subsidies.

With Japanese government incentives, the Prius PHV will cost 2.75 million yen, Toyota said.

Toyota’s new model adds an external charging function and more batteries to the popular Prius to enable longer-distance driving on electricity alone. It packs high-capacity lithium-ion batteries that can be charged in 90 minutes on 200 volts. The batteries will be built by a joint venture with Panasonic Corp .

Toyota aims to sell 60,000 Prius PHVs a year globally, including 35,000 to 40,000 in Japan, where deliveries will begin Jan. 30.

More reuters.com

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