Toyota is adding another member to the Prius family. In addition to the traditional Prius hybrid and the newly available Prius V, Toyota recently announced it will debut a plug-in hybrid version of the Prius at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.

Originally shown in concept form at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the plug-in Prius was already sold in small numbers to fleet and government buyers worldwide. While those sales were primarily intended to allow Toyota to test its plug-in hybrid system, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid shown at this year's Frankfurt show is a finished, production-ready variant of the popular hybrid hatchback.

Scheduled to go on sale in Europe this fall with a US launch set for spring 2012, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid uses a gas and electric drivetrain similar to the one found in the Chevrolet Volt. That means the plug-in hatchback utilizes a traditional gasoline engine as well as a fully-electric motor, in this case capable of travelling about 12 miles before reverting to gas power. Toyota says the Prius Plug-in Hybrid's electric motor can be fully recharged in about 90 minutes using a 240-volt charger.

While Toyota says the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is capable of around 107 miles per gallon on the European test cycle, there's no word on where the EPA will rate the plug-in Prius when it makes its debut stateside. According to Toyota, the Prius Plug-in achieved between 70 and 110 mpg during testing.

When the Prius Plug-in Hybrid does make its way into US dealers, it will find itself amongst tough competition. Fully-electric rivals include the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf, while the popular Chevrolet Volt will serve as the Prius's chief plug-in competitor. In contrast to the Prius Plug-in's 12-mile fully-electric range, the Volt can travel up to 30 miles under fully electric power.

Toyota has not announced final pricing on the Prius Plug-in Hybrid for European or North American markets. When more details to become available, we'll be there to cover them live from the Frankfurt Motor Show.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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