Toyota is moving toward launching experimental plug-in hybrid vehicles in Europe in 2009 as part of a three-year lease trial, ahead of rival GM, which plans to introduce its own version in late 2010.

Toyota Motor Europe will begin a lease program with over 150 vehicles to selected fleet customers across the continent ahead of a commercial launch, the automaker said on Thursday.

Discussions are ongoing about tests in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, Toyota said. The automaker says it will also deploy 500 new PHVs globally, including Europe, Japan and the US by 2010.

In the future, the PHV will be the perfect complement to Prius. It offers a low carbon transport solution for customers wanting to drive longer distances using electricity, while still experiencing the traditional benefits of a full hybrid, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Motors Europe Tadashi Arashima said, according to the report.

Earlier this year, Toyota pushed forward the introduction of its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for 2009, while General Motors plug-in Chevrolet Volt - though announced earlier- will be introduced in late 2010.

Toyota's plug-in hybrid will be built in Japan. The car will be powered by lithium-ion batteries also produced there.

Correction:In a previous update of this article, IBTimes incorrectly stated that Green Car Congress reported on Toyota’s plans for a Europe hybrid launch without citing sources. Within its web article, the publication had linked to a Toyota press release.

Last updated Friday, May 15, 2009 at 8:41 AM