Plug-in Toyota Prius Now Available for Order

A new plug-in version of the popular Toyota Prius hybrid can be ordered from this week.

The latest Prius, a half gasoline-half electric hybrid, boasts extraordinarily efficient mileage (check it: 143 miles per gallon in Japan) and a quite reasonable price of 3.2 million yen ($41,000 – and that price tag is reduced to to 2.75 million yen ($35,200) once green vehicle subsidies are taken into account).

Toyota has fairly modest initial sales targets for its new plug-in baby – they want to sell 35,000 to 40,000 a year in Japan, and 60,000 globally. The arrives in its homeland in January. The company has said it will charge $32,000 in the U.S. and 37,000 euros in Europe respectively.

It’s selling the plug-in Prius, which seats five people despite its compact form, as “the premier next-generation ecological car that will follow the hybrid.” It sports a new lithium-ion battery that can be charged up from a simply household outlet, like an electric car. And it can recharge itself while driving like a gasoline-electric hybrid.

Such cars are widely expected to be the focus of the forthcoming Tokyo Motor Show, which will open its doors to the masses this weekend.

The Prius’ chances at market are boosted by the Japanese government backing subsidies for consumers who choose a green car.

While other governments offer similar perk, it’s true that plug-in cars like the Prius are especially suited to Japan – according to studies, Japanese drivers don’t travel more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) a day on average. How this would fare in the wide, open U.S. remains to be seen.