Toyota Motor Sales, USA presented two Toyota plug-in (PHEV) hybrid prototypes to the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) and the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) as part of its on-going sustainable mobility development program with the two UC campuses.
The Toyota PHEVs delivered are based on the current-generation Prius, with oversized NiMH battery packs that effectively simulate, according to Toyota, the level of performance it expects to achieve when it eventually develops more advanced, compact and powerful battery systems. (Earlier post.)
The prototype plug-in has an electric driving range of approximately 7 miles, and a maximum electric speed of about 62 mph. The baseline Prius, by contrast, only runs in electric mode for brief periods at speeds up to about 20 mph under a very light throttle.
Charging is done conveniently, with an ordinary three-prong cord and household electrical outlet. The extra battery is housed in the trunk, taking up what was space for a spare tire.
UC Irvine will focus on some of the technical challenges, as well as determining the emissions benefits of plug-ins, including:
How to measure and test fuel economy and vehicle emissions;
How to account for the upstream emissions from electricity generation; and
In regions with a higher-carbon grid mix, whether plug-ins would provide an emissions benefit.
UC Berkeley will primarily focus on the customer experience, including:
Whether consumers would want to plug in their vehicles;
What trade-offs drivers are willing to make between range, charging time, battery size and battery cost; and
When people will charge and if drivers will want access to outlets where they work and shop.