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2010 Prius Plug-in Hybrid Makes North American Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show; First Li-ion Battery Traction Battery Developed by Toyota and PEVE

Priusphv
Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid Demonstration Program Vehicle 002. Click to enlarge.

The 2010 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicle (PHV) made its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Built specifically to support a global demonstration program that begins this month, the Prius PHV is based on the third-generation Prius. (Earlier post.)

The vehicle expands Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology with the introduction of a first generation lithium-ion battery that enables all-electric operation at higher speeds and longer distances than the conventional Prius hybrid. When fully charged, the vehicle is targeted to achieve a maximum electric-only range of approximately 13 miles and will be capable of achieving highway speeds up to 60 mph in electric-only (charge-depleting) mode.

“A lot of people are out there who believe that the batteries are done, that we can design essentially very large capacity batteries. The fact of the matter is that batteries are very expensive, with limitations on shelf life. So you design around the limitations. With a plug-in you get rid of range anxiety. If you do an EV with a 200-mile range, you have a long charge time, it's very expensive.”
—Bill Reinert, National Mgr. Advanced Technologies Group. Toyota, at the Bloomberg Cars & Fuels conference 1 Dec.

For longer distances, the Prius PHV reverts to charge sustaining mode and operates like a regular Prius. This ability to utilize all-electric power for short trips or hybrid power for longer drives alleviates the issue of limited cruising range encountered with pure electric vehicles.

The battery powering the Prius PHV is the first lithium-ion drive-battery developed by Toyota and its joint venture battery production company, Panasonic Electric Vehicle Energy (PEVE). In early November, PEVE began producing the first of more than 500 lithium batteries on a dedicated assembly line at its Teiho production facility in Japan.

This first-generation lithium battery has undergone more than three years of coordinated field testing in Japan, North America and Europe in a wide variety of climatic environments and driving conditions. Using approximately 150 conventional hybrids (mostly Prius), the field test vehicles logged well over a million combined miles. In the end, the battery was deemed both reliable and durable, confirming that it could indeed be used in conventional hybrid applications in the future, depending on further developments in cost reduction.

Operating in a more severe charge-depleting mode in PHV operation, the battery’s overall performance in a broad range of vehicle-use applications will be evaluated.

Beginning later this month, a total of 350 vehicles will begin delivery in Japan and Europe in support of model programs with business and government partners aimed at raising societal awareness of, and preparedness for, this important new technology.

Beginning early next year, 150 vehicles will start arriving in the US, where they will be placed in regional clusters with select partners for market/consumer analysis and technical demonstration.

On the consumer side, the US program will allow Toyota to gather real world vehicle-use feedback to better understand customer expectations for plug-in technology. On the technical side, the program aims to confirm, in a wide variety of real world applications, the overall performance of first-generation lithium-ion battery technology, while spurring the development of public-access charging station infrastructure.

All vehicles will be equipped with data retrieval devices which will monitor activities such as how often the vehicle is charged and when; whether the batteries are depleted or being topped off during charging; trip duration, all-EV driving range, combined mpg and so on.

In October, Toyota announced its first regional program partnership with Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity program in Boulder, Colo. (Earlier post.) Ten PHVs will be placed with Boulder residents who will participate in an interdisciplinary research project coordinated by the University of Colorado at Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a new joint venture between the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

RASEI, Xcel Energy and TMS will use this program to gather data on vehicle performance and charging patterns, consumer behavior and preferences, as well as electric utility/customer interactions. The locale offers the additional benefit of monitoring high altitude, cold climate performance of Toyota’s first generation lithium-ion battery.

Additional partners will be announced soon. Regional programs are currently slated for California, Washington D.C., New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Each placement scenario will have a variety of use cases to gain maximum input to vehicle performance and customer needs.

To assist with customer education, Toyota has launched a PHV demonstration program website: www.priusphv.com.

Comments

Patrick

Anne,

Incorrect, every OBDII vehicle has the ability to detect the loss of pressure from a gas cap that is not closed. It doesn't report "your gas cap is off" specifically, but that should be the first thing you check when you receive the error code.

We'll see - there are several plug-ins coming to market soon.

Does the "CalCars" and other modified Prius vehicles prevent moving while plugged in?

SJC

Harvey,

I proposed an inductive charging pad years ago, you just drive over the pad, the light comes on and you are charging while parked. I was told that it would be impractical and could not provide enough power. If 1000 watts would be enough, that might do the trick. Convenience sometimes outweighs performance. If I could just park at work, a public place or my garage and not have to worry about plugging in, then it is very convenient and I do not have to visit fueling stations for "self service". The IR of bluetooth network does all the paypoint and record keeping automatically.

HarveyD

SJC:

The new system developed at MIT can handle high loads at longer distance with lower lost.

There are good possibilities that cordless battery charging systems will be used in many places by 2015 + . It could very be an extra option when you buy your next PHEV or BEV.

HarveyD

WiTricity claims that their cordless power transfer system can handle various loads, even in the Kwh range at distances up to a few meters with acceptable loss. If their claims are true, cordless power transfer systems may become a valuable option for many who do not want to be bothered with plug-in it in and out.

One could also wonder if cordless systems could eventually work with slow moving vehicles in down town traffic jam areas. If so, it would remove the fear of being stuck in a BEV with a dead battery pack.

MG

Harvey,

I think I saw on WiTricity's web site that their efficiency of wireless power transfer is up to 90%, which may mean significant losses.
If used indoor, in tight spaces, in summer, there is additional danger of fire, as some of the lost energy will eventually go into heat.

Their technology may be very suitable for powering robots ih harsh environments, unsuitable for humans, like around nuclear reactors, etc.

If used for BEVs, it may increase the price noticeably, and the weight too.

Another issue is possible negative health effects on humans - they work at about 10 Mhz at several kW power. There would be alot of leaked power if used on multi-lane city streets.

MG

Re: auto-eject systems

Unless the receptable on car is very close to the ground, or above wheels, there is good chance that the ejected plug will scratch the paint (unless covered with some soft rubber).
Also it could be run over and damaged.

Probably a sound signal warning driver that cable is plugged-in would be an acceptable solution for most people. Sometimes people need to move a parked car (that may be charging) for a meter or less, back or forth, and for that reason I'd prefer a warning sound (and a flashing sign on display) to "not startable while plugged in" solution.

Engineer-Poet

Soft rubber covers are common on many things.  So are retracting reels, or just spring suspensions (water hoses at RV dump stations are commonly hanging from springy masts which keep the hose out of harm's way when not being pulled down).

Of all the technical problems, retracting cables are by far the path of least resistance compared to 10 MHz resonant-coupled charging systems.

SJC

I would accept a 10% loss for under car inductive pad charging. It is just so convenient that I do not even have to give it much thought. It is the system I would want and I think others would too.

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