Toyota planning mass-produced plug-in hybrid by 2012?

Though Toyota has already announced it plans to begin limited production and consumer testing of plug-in hybrid vehicles beginning in the next few months, a new report indicates that the Japanese automaker will enter full-scale series production of plug-in hybrids as early as 2012.

Japan's Nikkei reported on Saturday that Toyota plans to build up to 30,000 plug-in hybrids by 2012. That's still two years behind the Chevrolet Volt, but Toyota will beat General Motors to the punch by offering limited fleet customers a $47,800 plug-in Prius in Japan later this summer. That model will also make its way to North America by the end of the year, even though Toyota itself is skeptical that the public will latch on to the technology.

The paper reports that the upcoming Prius plug-in hybrid offered to fleet users will be able to run for up to 18.6 miles on battery power alone before a gas engine kicks in.