Q: What has been the consumer reaction?
Tanaka: More than 200 Plug-In Hybrid vehicles are in use in Japan. The majority of comments have been positive such as: "I can drive at ease without worrying about the battery running out" or "I drove 4,000 kilometers with only two stops for gas." But we have also received requests like: "I wish that the EV range were a little bit longer." We want to respond to as many of consumer requests as possible before coming onto the market.
Q: What benefits do you expect to see as the numbers of Plug-In Hybrid vehicles increase?
Tanaka: For example, if gasoline engine vehicles were replaced with hybrid vehicles, gasoline consumption would be reduced by 50% and if they were replaced by Plug-In Hybrid vehicles, a reduction of 74% could be expected.
Plug-In Hybrid vehicles have potentials to make a great contribution towards control of gasoline use.
Q: What are the improvements you plan before coming onto the market?
Tanaka: It is still too early for me to discuss details, but we are planning a major upgrade with emphasis on driver usability.
Q: What is the planned sales price?
Tanaka: We already announced that the price will be about 3 million yen. We hope this will encourage many customers into the driver's seat.
Q: When do you plan to release the Prius Plug-In Hybrid to the market?
Tanaka: We will start delivery in early 2012. We are planning more than 50,000 units per year worldwide and arrangements for mass production systems are already in place.