Toyota Motor said it would begin sales of the new Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) in Japan on 15 March, following the launch of the standard hybrid (HEV) model in January.

The Prius was the world’s first mass produced hybrid car when it was originally launched in Japan in 1997 (exports from 2000), paving the way for the technology to evolve and make its way into a wide range of Toyota models. The model is produced at the Tsutsumi plant in Japan.

Toyota claims the new model, developed under the ‘Hybrid Reborn’ concept, offers high performance combined with “refined” driving and the model’s core strength as an environmentally friendly car.

The fifth generation two-litre plug in hybrid system delivers maximum power of 164 kW (223 PS) and acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds. The car can cover a distance of 126km on one litre of fuel and 105 km on battery power alone when fitted with 17 inch tyres, making it suitable for daily usage and long-distance trips. This is a 75% improvement on the previous model.

The car is equipped with a second generation solar charging system that provides enough power to drive up to 1,250km per year in battery mode. It is priced at JPY4.6m (US$33,900).