Toyota Delivers Three Prius Plug-In Hybrids for Year-Long Demo
San Diego Gas & Electric and the nonprofit California Center for Sustainable Energy rolled out three Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) today in what’s expected to be at least a year-long program intended to assess the vehicles’ performance in real-world driving conditions throughout the United States.
The three cars unveiled today in San Diego are among the first of a 150-vehicle demonstration fleet that Toyota Motor Sales USA plans to deliver throughout the United States by September. The Japanese carmaker plans to deploy 600 of the next-generation hybrids around the world as part of a demonstration program intended to both assess the PHV’s performance and as a way to measure public acceptance of the technology. Toyota will incorporate the data in both its engineering development and distribution plans for the Prius PHV Hybrid, which is slated for its U.S. introduction in 2012.
Mary Nickerson, a Toyota spokeswoman in Los Angeles, tells me the Prius PHVs unveiled today are the first to be delivered in Southern California. The Bay Area got its first glimpse in San Jose two weeks ago, and a few Prius PHVs are scheduled for delivery in San Francisco by the end of July. Toyota also plans to deliver Prius PHVs to Toyota fleet vehicle customers in Detroit, Boston, and Seattle (the other cities in our growing Xconomy Network), but Nickerson says the schedule hasn’t been worked out yet.
The PHV is based on Toyota’s current third-generation Prius design. It combines high-output lithium-ion batteries with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology to offer an all-electric driving mode for the first time.
The Prius PHV, like a standard 2010 Toyota Prius, combines a 98-horsepower, 1.8-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor that produces the equivalent of 80 horsepower. Unlike a standard Prius, however, the PHV can operate in electric-only mode—powered only by its batteries for 13 miles at speeds up to 62 mph. The Prius PHV can be recharged in roughly three hours from a standard 110-volt electrical outlet, or in 90 minutes using a 220-volt charger.
As I mentioned earlier this month, San Diego is expected to be a test market for as many as 10 different electric vehicle designs over the next year. SDG&E and the California Center for Sustainable Energy are evaluating how advanced electric vehicle charging stations can be integrated with the power grid. The center also is leading a joint study with SDG&E and AeroVironment to determine how used ion-lithium batteries from electric vehicles can be given a second life in smart-grid energy storage applications.
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