Toyota has teamed up with EDF Eenergy to road-trial the first plug-in hybrid (PHV) introduced by a car manufacturer to the U.K. The trials, which are now underway, will continue for more than one year. The PHV will make its 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, which represents a further improvement on Toyota’s hybrid technology.
The trial builds on the first European PHV testing program, launched by Toyota and EDF in France in September 2007. The U.K. partnership is designed to evaluate vehicle performance within an urban environment, vehicle infrastructure requirements, and driver behaviours and expectations.
The companies are using an innovative charging and invoicing system, incorporated into the PHV, which is compatible with a new generation of public charging systems. EDF Energy has helped to install the first of 40 charging posts in the U.K., with plans to help install more in the coming months.
The PHV uses Toyota’s hybrid technology with the added benefit that the batteries can be fully recharged by using a standard electrical plug. For short distances, the PHV can be driven as an electric vehicle, and for longer distances, it works as a conventional hybrid vehicle. Early tests indicate that for trips up to 25 km, the PHV consumes approximately 60 per cent less fuel than a regular hybrid Prius.
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.