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Toyota to Lease More Than 150 Experimental Li-Ion PHEVs in Europe

14 May 2009

Toyota Motor Europe (TME) will lease more than 150 units of its experimental Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) to selected fleet customers across Europe as a next step towards commercialization. Toyota says it will deploy more than 500 new PHVs in global trials—including in Europe, Japan and the US—by 2010.

France will be the first country to participate in the three-year European pilot, with discussions ongoing in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. Based on Toyota’s full hybrid technology, the new PHV will come equipped with a lithium-ion battery, extending the vehicle’s range in electric vehicle mode. The first wave of PHVs will reach Strasbourg in late 2009.

In the future, the PHV will be the perfect complement to Prius. It offers a low carbon transport solution for customers wanting to drive longer distances using electricity, while still experiencing the traditional benefits of a full hybrid. There is no better time to put our new PHV through its paces. We have to assess its performance in a variety of markets with different infrastructure constraints, driving conditions and customer expectations.

—Tadashi Arashima, President and Chief Executive Officer of TME

Toyota’s PHV can be driven as an electric vehicle for city commutes, while for high-speed, long-distance journeys it operates as a full hybrid, with its gasoline engine serving as both a power source and battery generator when required. The battery is charged during driving, deceleration or braking, or by connecting its plug to a standard electrical point at home or at work.

In partnership with EDF, Toyota has been road-testing a PHV (equipped with a Nickel Metal Hydride battery) in Europe since 2007. Around 100 units of the new lithium-ion PHV will be leased to selected fleet customers and public bodies in Strasbourg, France, for a period of three years. (Earlier post.)

Part of the Strasbourg-based PHV fleet will come equipped with an innovative charging system that ensures safe charging, communication between the plug and the vehicle, identification of the vehicle and automatic invoicing of electricity. A large number of charging points will also be established in users’ homes, the offices of business partners, in public parking lots and on public roads.

May 14, 2009 in Europe, Hybrids, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

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Very interesting approach to test their new lithium battery pack and integration into a PHEV configuration in various environment.

It seems obvious that Toyota will be catching-up to GM's Volt and beyond with a more aerodynamic vehicle (the Prius III+ PHEV)

It will be interesting to see what the other 20+ manufacturers will come up with in 2010 and 2011.

I'm really curious how the plug in will drive in electric mode. The current Prius is very sluggish in EV mode.
I'm also curioius to hear from Hymotion battery pack owners - what the experience has been. I personally think the Hymotion battery pack is cool, but a complete waste of money and batteries.

an innovative charging system that ensures safe charging, communication between the plug and the vehicle, identification of the vehicle and automatic invoicing of electricity

That kinda has me worrying. Can a plugin Prius only be charged through a charge point? Are they going for the PBP pay-as-you-ride business model?

I thought the Prius PHEV was going to be available for sale in 2010. Now this looks like simply a pilot effort.


Toyota’s PHV can be driven as an electric vehicle for city commutes, while for high-speed, long-distance journeys it operates as a full hybrid, with its gasoline engine serving as both a power source and battery generator when required.

Very sensible design choice.
By having e-motor capable of powering the vehicle up to high urban speeds (~45 mph/72 kmph) it allows the use of not-very-powerful (and not very expensive)) e-motor (ie MG2 in Prius). Above 45 mph air resistance usually becomes dominant source of losses.

The current Prius with extra battery pack (like Hymotion) is unlikely to be able to operate continuously at urban speeds, as their e-motor is not designed for that.
The PHEV Prius almost certainly has stronger MG2 motor (with higher continuous power rating), probably a larger unit.

If they would go for more powerful e-motor that would allow all-electric mode up to say 120 kmph, it would require more powerful and more expensive e-motor.
It would also pose a question of (unnecessary) duplication of resources. Highway driving is usually linked with long distance driving, and battery packs are not there yet.

For significant percentage of drivers having a car operating in all-electric mode in city driving, and as a parallel hybrid at high speed highway driving is acceptable solution.
Actually it is often the case that speed on highways during rush hours is below 45 mph, so PHEV Prius can be used in many places to go to work in all-electric mode, where the trip also includes some highway sections.

Compare this design solution with Chevy Volt, and you see that Volt must have stronger e-motor (for highway speeds), much stronger generator, and perhaps can have an engine a little bit weaker.
Prius also needs PSD transmission.
Even at very low temperatures PHEV can run without problems as parallel hybrid, while series hybrid Volt, which relies all the time on batteries, may experience problems.

Not a big deal PHEV Prius doesn't support PBP scheme of battery swapping. (To me) PBP is sort of joke. They still don't have a deal in France and Germany (I was surprised they found a partner in Japan).
It is preferred that batteries are watertight.
What if you drive in snow, everything wet underneath (also salty, and very high humidity), then you go to replace batteries.
Very likely you'd have problems with wet contacts.

Nice analysis MG!

Also this PHEV Prius with EV capability only at city speeds may not cost much more than the standard Prius. A 6 kWh battery could be enough range for most city speed errands and probably enable many to halve their annual gasoline bills. Such a small battery may not cost more than 300 to 400 USD per kWh when it is produced by more than 100k units per year. You also save the cost of the old Prius NiHM battery that could pay for the extra cost of a slightly larger electric motor and a charger. I would not be surprised if Toyota launches such a PHEV Prius for only 1800 to 2400 USD on top of the price of the regular Prius.

The Hymotion upgrade was costly, and if/when Toyota does its EREV version of the Prius, it will need a more powerful electric motor, but as a means to improve gas mileage, the Hymotion upgrade really works pretty well with the existing Prius. You can either hypermile or drive in your normal style, and you'll get better gas mileage up until the Li-ion battery is fully discharged. For the first 30 miles of driving, I get very nearly 100 mpg, and that is mosly on freeways. A more powerful electric motor would be nice, but until battery capacity catches up with what the motor would demand, the risk is that you'd just drain the battery quicker. I'm actually quite pleased with the Hymotion upgrade and I'm sure that with the right battery, range and price point, that Toyota could easily roll out a PHEV version of the Prius that would be a market leader. They're SO close already.

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