|Charging the Prius PHEV in Westminster. Click to enlarge.|
EDF Energy and Toyota are extending their European plug-in hybrid testing program to the UK. The beginning of the UK road trials marks the first introduction of a PHEV by a car manufacturer to the UK.
The trial builds on the first European PHEV testing program launched by Toyota and EDF on French roads in September 2007. (Earlier post.) The UK partnership is designed to evaluate vehicle performance within an urban environment, vehicle infrastructure requirements, and driver behaviors and expectations.
Trials started today and will continue for more than one year. Toyota’s right-hand drive PHEV 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.
Toyota and EDF Energy are using an new charging and invoicing system which is incorporated into the PHEV. 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.
Early test results indicate that fuel efficiency of the Prius PHEV prototype is significantly higher than current Prius. For example, for trips up to 25 km (15.5 miles), the PHEV consumes roughly 60% less fuel than Toyota’s hybrid Prius. One of the research objectives of the UK tests is to confirm such PHEV performance.
The tests also aim at understanding consumers’ acceptance of the new technology, as a preparation to broader commercialization in the future. Toyota has already confirmed that it will sell lithium-ion battery-equipped PHEVs to fleet customers in Europe and other regions by the end of 2009.