It is not entirely clear that consumers want plug-in electric cars, but that is not keeping Toyota (NYSE:TM) from marketing one, probably in two years. Hybrids are less expensive and get up to 50 mph. The same is true of new clean-burning diesels and vehicles with smaller four-cylinder fuel-efficient engines.
The largest Japanese car company says it will begin to sell its Prius Plug-In Hybrid. The car will take a charge to get more mileage from the electric part of the current Prius engine.
Toyota claims the new car will be able to travel 870 miles using its hybrid/electic/gas fuel capacity.
The new vehicle from Toyota is meant to compete with similar models that GM and Nissan plan to launch, but all three vehicles are coming into a market where it is not clear that people will want to charge their cars in a garage the way that they might a golf cart. Charging electric cars requires special equipment. The price of electricity is variable. The price of gas has fallen and is now under $2.25 per gallon in many US cities. Oil prices are back near $70 and there is evidence that a stronger dollar could drive that price lower.
The Toyota may be an example of a large company building something that no one buys. It happened before with the Edsel.
Douglas A. McIntyre