Evaluating PHV viability

Employees of EDF Energy are to trial Toyota’s Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) as part of a project to evaluate the viability of PHV technology.

EDF Energy and Toyota are trialling the first Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) introduced by a car manufacturer to the UK.

Toyota’s PHV will join EDF Energy’s company fleet and will be tested by employees under everyday driving conditions for at least a year.

The results are expected to play an important role in the development of Toyota’s PHV technology, which is said to represent a further improvement on the company’s hybrid technology.

The trial builds on the first European PHV testing programme launched by Toyota and EDF in France in September 2007. The UK partnership has been designed to evaluate vehicle performance within an urban environment, and to understand vehicle infrastructure requirements, plus driver behaviour and expectations.

Toyota and EDF Energy are using a charging and invoicing system which is 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 40 charging posts in the UK, with plans to install more in the coming months.

Batteries in a PHV 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, resulting in a silent, zero emissions drive. For longer distances, PHV works as a conventional hybrid vehicle.

Early test results indicate that fuel efficiency in a PHV is significantly higher than that of the current Toyota hybrid, the Prius. For journeys up to 25km, PHV consumes roughly 60 per cent less fuel than the Prius.

One of the research objectives of the UK tests is to confirm such PHV performance. The tests also aim to understand consumers’ acceptance of the new technology, as a preparation to broader commercialisation in the future.