Toyota Test its Prius Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle

Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV) performance will be assessed in a demonstration program conducted by Toyota Motor Sales in the United States, together with the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE). According to Mike Ferry, CCSE's Transportation Programs Manager, the center will receive three Prius PHVs this June, and will be used every day as personal vehicles of engineers and staff members of CCSE.

The center is a nonprofit organization focusing on the development of renewable energy, green building, alternative fuels and other related matters.

Ferry said that, “the plug-in Prius is an evolutionary step forward in Toyota’s development of hybrid-electric technology, but it is a revolutionary leap forward in the automotive industry.”

He said that his organization is honored to partner with Toyota on the demonstration program that could lead toward vehicles powered by cleaner energy.

CCSE is also managing California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, a program funded by the Air Resources Board that offers rebates for eligible zero-emission and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

He said that the new PHV Prius will qualify for the program but the amount of the tax rebate is yet to be determined.

“Someday soon, Californians will have the choice of driving past the gas pump and high gas prices to choose something better,” Ferry said. “The Prius PHV is a major step in getting us there.”

Just like a standard 2010 Toyota Prius, the Prius PHV combines a 98-horsepower, 1.8-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor that produces the equivalent of 80 hp. The difference is that the PHV can operate in electric-only mode, powering itself on batteries alone for approximately 13 miles (20 km) up to speeds of 62 mph (100 km/h). The PHV has lithium-ion battery packs that can be recharged from an ordinary 110- Volt electrical outlet in about three hours.

Toyota is looking to accomplish a number of goals with its nationwide Prius PHV demonstration program, including confirming the overall performance of its first-generation lithium-ion drive battery, gauging public interest in the new technology and assessing overall market preparedness for plug-in hybrids, which will arrive at Toyota dealerships in 2012.

John Hanson, Toyota’s National Manager of Environmental, Safety and Quality Communications said that, “It is imperative that consumers fully understand both the potential and the challenges involved in the electrification of the automobile."

Through the demonstration program, he said, a similar program for their hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will give consumers ample information on how new mobility alternatives will fit with their transportation needs, lifestyle and budget.

Toyota’s Prius demonstration program will place 150 vehicles in the U.S. with universities, corporations, government agencies, car-sharing programs and other groups, like CCSE.