EDF Energy and Toyota are to road trial the first Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) introduced by a car manufacturer to the UK.
Trials start today and will continue for more than one year.
Toyota’s PHV will make its on-the-road debut as part of EDF Energy’s company fleet and will be tested by employees under everyday driving conditions. The results are expected to play a pivotal role in the development of Toyota’s PHV technology.
The trial builds on the first European PHV testing programme launched by Toyota and EDF on French roads in September 2007. The UK partnership is designed to evaluate vehicle performance within an urban environment, as well as vehicle-infrastructure requirements, and driver behaviours and expectations.
Toyota and EDF Energy are using what is being described as an ’innovative charging and invoicing system’, incorporated into the PHV. This system is compatible with a new generation of public charging stations, which aim to make electric power more accessible on public roads and car parks, and will reduce the cost to the customer. EDF Energy has helped to install the first of 40 charging posts in the UK, with plans to help install more.
A PHV uses Toyota’s hybrid technology. Its batteries can be fully recharged using a standard electrical plug or an electrical charging post to extend its driving range in electric mode. For short distances, PHV can be driven as an electric vehicle and, for longer distances, PHV works as a conventional hybrid vehicle.
Early test results indicate that fuel efficiency is ‘significantly higher’ than that of the current Prius. For trips up to 25km, PHV consumes roughly 60 per cent less fuel than Toyota’s hybrid Prius. One of the research objectives of the UK tests is to confirm such PHV performance.
The tests are also aimed at understanding consumers’ acceptance of the new technology, as a preparation to broader commercialisation. Toyota has confirmed that it will sell lithium-ion battery-equipped PHVs to fleet customers in Europe and other regions by the end of 2009.