Want some data sharing with your car sharing? On Thursday, Zipcar added eight Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) to its car-sharing fleet. The plug-in Priuses, which are not available for purchase until 2012, will be accessible to Zipcar members in Boston, MA, Cambridge, MA, San Francisco, CA, and Portland, OR. Zipcar's newest additions are part of a broad pilot program aimed at assisting Toyota in obtaining real-world data prior to the plug-ins' 2012 launch. On the flip side, Zipcar hopes to analyze the use of plug-in hybrids and assess the potential for a broader fleet rollout.
Back in 2009, Zipcar teamed up with the city of San Francisco to test a plug-in Prius. That car, which utilized a plug-in conversion kit provided by A123 Systems, offered up to 40 miles of pure electric range. The battery-only range of Toyota's plug-in Prius is limited to 13 miles, but Scott Griffith, Zipcar's chief executive officer, points out that "approximately one-third of our reservations are made for trips equaling less than 13 miles," which implies that those jaunts could be made in a Prius PHEV without using a drop of gas as long as there's enough time to rechage between rentals.
Like all of the other hybrids in Zipcar's fleet, the plug-in Prius can only be reserved by the hour, with sixty minutes of seat time costing approximately $7.
New Program Designed to Further Test and Evaluate How PHVs and EVs Can Lead to Sustainable Networked Transportation Systems
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Zipcar, Inc., the world's leading car sharing service, today announced the introduction of eight Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles (PHVs) into the Zipcar network, in an effort to further test and evaluate plug-in hybrid technology and gain increased intelligence on how electric vehicles (EVs) can fit into a large-scale car-sharing model. The Prius PHVs are now available to Zipcar members in Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.
The new vehicles are part of a pilot program with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. to demonstrate plug-in hybrid technology, evaluate the performance of the vehicles and help to educate and prepare the public for the electrification of the automobile. The Toyota Prius PHVs, which will become commercially available in 2012, are eight of approximately 160 being distributed by Toyota nationwide.
Zipcar currently offers three of the vehicles in Cambridge/Boston; one located at the Albany Street Garage on the campus of MIT, one at 33 Arch Street in downtown Boston and one at the Prudential Center. San Francisco members have access to three of the Prius PHV vehicles, which join a converted plug-in Prius already in the fleet. One of the vehicles is housed in front of City Hall, one is located in North Point/Fisherman's Wharf and the third is located in Union Square. Two vehicles are also available in Portland, one at the Portland State University Parking Garage and one at Shaver Green. The eight Prius PHVs will be available to Zipcar members in Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco and Portland for reservation throughout 2011.
"As the operator of the largest connected vehicle network in the world, Zipcar is committed to taking a thoughtful and deliberate approach to EVs. Given Toyota's long standing commitment to hybrid and plug-in vehicle technologies, they are an ideal partner for this project. We are dedicated to embracing cutting-edge vehicle technology in a strategic way, and in a way that meets the standards of large scale, multi-city, multi-country car sharing," said Scott Griffith, Chairman and CEO of Zipcar. "Zipcar is an ideal test bed for early consumer acceptance of EVs. This project will allow companies to receive direct feedback from thousands of consumers in three cities and help evaluate how EVs fit into a large-scale car sharing model."
The Prius PHV is powered by lithium-ion batteries and can be charged from a standard 110-volt outlet. The vehicle, which takes up to three hours to charge, can travel on electric-only power at speeds of up to 62 mph for approximately 13 miles, after which it shifts to operate as a conventional Prius hybrid, averaging an estimated 50 miles per gallon. This makes the PHV model ideal for car sharing, as members are assured that the car can go the distance, no matter the charge when they pick it up. Because many trips taken by Zipcar members are fewer than 13 miles, many PHV trips will be emission-free. With the Prius PHV, Zipcar members can rely on the electric charge for shorter trips, but rest assured they have back-up for longer road trips or for use between charges.
"The PHV demonstration program is designed to gather real-world driving data and customer feedback on plug-in hybrid technology, and we're excited to be working with Zipcar to further test how this technology could have even greater environmental impact by fitting into the car sharing model," said Mary Nickerson, national manager, advanced technology vehicles, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. "This program will help us to educate and inform the public on plug-in hybrid technology, evaluate the performance of the vehicle under different driving conditions and better understand the benefits to future customers."
Zipcar has been a pioneer in using advanced vehicle technologies, being the first car sharing company in the United States to introduce electric vehicles into its fleet with the launch of Toyota RAV4 EVs in Boston in 2002, and the first to offer hybrid vehicles with the launch of hybrid vehicles in Seattle in 2003. Zipcar currently offers converted plug-in hybrids in San Francisco and pure EV models in the London market. Today, Zipcar offers over 1,000 hybrid vehicles available internationally, representing 15-20% of the company's entire fleet.
Zipcar is the world's leading car-sharing service with more than 530,000 members and 8,000 vehicles in urban areas and college campuses throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day to residents and businesses looking for an alternative to the high costs and hassles of owning a car. More information is available at www.zipcar.com.
Zipcar and the Zipcar logo are trademarks of Zipcar, Inc.
About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion. Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of nearly 1,500 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers that sold more than 1.77 million vehicles in 2009. Toyota directly employs nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyota.com, www.lexus.com, www.scion.com or www.toyotanewsroom.com.