EDF, Toyota start UK plug-in Prius tests today

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Now, this is tasty. Toyota and EDF Energy today kicked off a series of road trials of the much-desired plug-in Prius. And it's not just because of those fancy stickers that we want this car, either. EDF (also a participant in the ongoing smart ED tests) and Toyota will be testing the PHEV Prius for the next year or so and expect the data collected during the trial to "play a pivotal role in the development of Toyota's PHV technology." There's a big no kidding.

For these tests, Toyota built a smart meter into the Prius that can regulate charging and invoicing, something that - if standardized - will make plug-in vehicles a much easier sell to utilities. Toyota says that if you're driving no more than 25 kilometers (15.5 miles), then your gasoline use is cut by 60 percent. Not quite as sexy as the Chevy Volt's promises, but still worth it. Toyota and EDF started testing the PHEV Prius in France late last year. Read more after the jump.

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[Source: EDF, Toyota]


EDF Energy and Toyota launch UK trials of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle

EDF Energy and Toyota have teamed up to road trial the first Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) introduced by a car manufacturer to the UK (1). Trials start today and will continue for more than one year. Toyota's right-hand drive PHV will make its on-the-road debut as part of EDF Energy's company fleet and will be tested by employees under every-day driving conditions. The results are expected to play a pivotal role in the development of Toyota's PHV technology, which represents a further improvement on Toyota's hybrid technology, one of the world's most environmentally friendly mass-produced vehicle powertrain (2) technologies.

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, vehicle infrastructure requirements, and driver behaviours and expectations.

Toyota and EDF Energy are using an innovative 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 the first of 40 charging posts in the UK, with plans to help install more in the coming months. A PHV uses Toyota's hybrid technology with the added benefit that the vehicle's 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, resulting in a silent, zero emissions drive. For longer distances, PHV works as a conventional hybrid vehicle.

Toyota's PHV is "the best of both worlds": it enhances the benefits of hybrid technology, while avoiding the constraints traditionally linked with electric vehicles. Toyota expects the PHV to bring unsurpassed fuel efficiency and therefore record low emissions. Early test results indicate that fuel efficiency is significantly higher than current Prius. For example, for trips up to 25km, PHV consumes roughly 60% less fuel than Toyota's hybrid Prius. One of the research objectives of the UK tests is to confirm such PHV performance. The tests also aim at understanding consumers' acceptance of the new technology, as a preparation to broader commercialisation in the future. Toyota has already confirmed that it will sell lithium-ion battery-equipped PHVs to fleet customers in Europe and other regions by the end of 2009. Rt Hon John Hutton MP, UK Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, speaking at a Toyota - EDF Energy event in London to launch PHV in the UK, said: 'I welcome the launch of this trial here in the UK. I am pleased to see industry pulling together to work on diversifying energy use and cutting global carbon emissions. We hope that this trial will provide an invaluable insight into the future development of UK electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. This, combined with the demonstration project announced by the prime minister (3), will lead us one step closer to making our ambition of becoming the number one location for low carbon vehicles a reality.' 'We are very excited to expand our PHV road testing programme to the UK in collaboration with EDF Energy,' said Koei Saga, Managing Officer in charge of hybrid system development at Toyota Motor Corporation. 'Today's announcement represents a step change towards acceptance of electricity in combination with hybrid technology as a viable and sustainable transport solution'.

Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy Chief Executive said: 'I am delighted that EDF Energy will play a pivotal role with Toyota in trialling this innovative vehicle and technology as part of our ongoing work to make clean electric transport more accessible to everyone. We passionately believe in rising to the challenge of climate change by helping our customers reduce the carbon emissions from their energy use. Incorporating this vehicle into our fleet complements our work in developing electric charging posts for vehicles in the UK and in France. It supports Our Climate Commitments, in which we have committed to cutting our CO2 emissions from our transport by 20% by 2012.'

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