TOKYO Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday it would begin leasing 500 plug-in hybrids based on the Prius model globally by the end of this year, primarily for government and corporate use.
Toyota, the world's biggest automaker, said in a statement it would lease 200 in Japan and 150 each in the United States and Europe, including 100 in France.
Plug-in hybrid cars can be cleaner than regular hybrids because they can be charged to run purely on electricity, but the need for more batteries makes them expensive.
Toyota's plug-in cars would be the brand's first to employ lithium-ion batteries, which are costly but can store more energy than nickel-metal hydride batteries used in most gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.
Among other carmakers, bankrupt General Motors Corp is planning to launch its much-hyped Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid next year.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim)