Brussels, Belgium,

Prius Plug-in Hybrid 2012 DPL: Plug-in technology proven through extensive trials

  • Proven plug-in hybrid technology, optimised through customer feedback from five year global trial projects
  • Providing 'best of both worlds' motoring through extended EV driving and no range anxiety

Thestart of Prius Plug-in Hybrid global sales follows an extensive PHEV leasingproject which has taken place throughout the world, in two phases, over thelast five years.

Initiated in July 2007, 10 years after the launch ofthe first generation Prius, the first phase involved about 20 vehicles, ofwhich four were tested in Europe. This first phase was dedicated to intensiveresearch and development through real life road trials in countries includingFrance and the UK, with a specific focus on the relationship between the newtechnology involved and its users.

Simultaneous research into the development of a public,private and company recharging infrastructure is fundamental to the viabilityof a PHEV project. To that end, the first phase also marked the start ofToyota's ongoing partnership with French energy company, EDF, who is present inmany European markets.

In December 2009, the second development phase began. Itwas centred on a worldwide limited lease project involving some 600 prototypevehicles, of which 200 were leased to selected partners and customers in 18European countries.

Toyota's European Prius Plug-in Hybrid limited leaseproject started in Strasbourg, France, at the end of April 2010, with the threeyear leasing of 100 Prius Plug-in Hybrid prototype vehicles by privatecompanies and other organisations, including government bodies, localauthorities, energy providers and a car sharing company. 

Widely recognised as 'the other European Union capital',Strasbourg has had a notably advanced mobility strategy in place for some time,making it the ideal location for a large-scale demonstration of theurban-friendly practicalities of the Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

Simultaneously, Toyota's partner EDF began creating acomplimentary recharging infrastructure, installing charging points at thefacilities of project partners, in public parking lots, on public roads andreinforced plugs at users' homes. 

Some 20 vehicles were introduced in the UK, and another15-20 in Germany. Toyota also introduced the Prius Plug-in Hybrid on a globalscale, with participants including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan andthe United States of America.

Real World PHEV Driver Behaviour Analysis 

Both in Europe and around the world, the road trialsallowed Toyota to fine tune its ongoing PHEV research and development. Thegathering of real world vehicle-use feedback has enabled the company to betterunderstand customer expectations of plug-in technology, while spurring thedevelopment of a public access charging station infrastructure.

All leased Prius Plug-in Hybrid prototype vehicles wereequipped with data retrieval devices which monitored everyday user activitiessuch as when, and how often, the vehicle was charged, the extent of batterydepletion at the time of charging, trip duration, percentage of EV use and EVrange achieved, and fuel efficiency.

The PHEVs involved in the leasing project wereintensively driven both in the urban environment and on longer journeys out ofthe city. With an average yearly mileage of 13,180 km, project participantsacquired nearly 800,000 km of PHEV driving experience.

With over 90% of journeys covering less than 25 km, thezero emission, fully electric range of the PHEV satisfied a significant shareof the users' daily requirements. 35% of users also completed long distancetrips of more than 100 km at least once a week, thanks to the PHEV's ability tooperate as a full hybrid eliminating the range anxiety associated with journeysof this length in a fully electric vehicle.

Fuel efficiency figures obtained under real-worldconditions show that the PHEV consumes 36% less fuel than the comparable,best-in-class diesel vehicle and almost 50% less than the best-in-class petrolvehicle. Users that maximised the potential of the PHEV and made optimal use ofthe existing recharging infrastructure were able to return average fuelconsumption figures of less than 2.0 l/100 km.

Plug-in Hybrid Technology — Extended EV Range WithNo Constraints

Electricity has high potential as an alternative to oil,may be produced from renewable sources such as solar, wind, tidal andhydro-electric power, can be readily supplied, and is carbon neutral at thepoint of consumption.

However, although the environmental merits of EVs asurban commuters are well proven, the further development of such vehicles iscurrently handicapped by the weight, size and cost of the large capacitybatteries required to offer satisfactory range, and the lack of an adequaterecharging infrastructure.

In focusing on PHEV technology, Toyota has addressed theissues of driving range, cost and infrastructure. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid is a full hybrid vehicle in whichboth the electric motor and petrol engine can drive the wheels. An extendedfully electric, EV mode is employed for city driving, while the hybridpowertrain's petrol engine awards the car true long range capability. 

A further benefit of its extended EV driving range andultra-low CO2 emissions, Toyota's new PHEV qualifies for variouscustomer rebates and taxation benefits in over 10 European countries, with asignificant impact on both purchase and running costs.

Rather than the former replacing the latter, bothstandard and Plug-in versions of the Prius full hybrid will co-exist on themarket for the foreseeable future.