Eight Prius plug-in hybrids are on their way toward London’s streets as taxis.

Openstart Ltd. has ordered the rechargeable hatchbacks, making them available to private hire operators for the first time through the Public Carriage Office (PCO).

Toyota said the Prius plug-in has the potential to offer hours of emissions-free driving around the British capital, thanks to its all-electric driving range; according to conditions, around 15 miles can be achieved in full EV mode. A full recharge of the battery can be achieved in an hour and a half, simply by connecting the car to a workplace, home or roadside power supply.

“We have always been pioneers of new technology in the PCO, right from when we first introduced automatic transmission to our fleet, something that’s gone on to become a default feature,” said Hamid Tehrani, Openstart’s owner and managing director.“We are delighted now to be including Prius Plug-in, introducing our customers to the great benefits of Toyota’s simple, reliable, low emissions plug-in hybrid system.”

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Openstart said it has already taken delivery of 50 of its new Prius Plug-in, joining a fleet that has already added more than 60 standard Prius and Prius+ cars this year.

“Our hybrid Prius and seven-seat Prius+ are proven favourites as private hire vehicles and we’re delighted that we are able to help Openstart develop the potential of Prius Plug-in as another strong proposition through the PCO,” said Stuart Ferma, Toyota’s National Fleet Sales Manager. “Prius Plug-in can deliver lower running costs, lower emissions and ease of use in the urban environment. And unlike all-electric vehicles it’s a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ proposition, as the hybrid petrol engine is automatically engaged should energy levels be depleted, or extra power be needed.”