In late 2009, Toyota began delivery of 600 Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicles, equipped with lithium-ion batteries, to participate in a global demonstration program. 150 vehicles are being placed with program partners in the U.S. to demonstrate plug-in hybrid technology, educate and inform the public, evaluate performance and better understand the technology’s benefits to future customers.
On the consumer side, this program will allow Toyota to gather in-use driving feedback and 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 Toyota’s first-generation lithium-ion battery technology, while spurring the development of public-access charging station infrastructure.
In October 2009, Toyota announced its first demonstration program partnership with Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity program in Boulder, CO. 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 U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Toyota also has announced partnerships with Qualcomm, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Southern California Air Quality Management District, University of California, Berkeley and Portland State University.
Additional specific partners will be announced soon, with regional programs slated for northern and southern California, Washington D.C., New York City, Portland, Oregon and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Each placement scenario will have a variety of ‘use cases’ or driving conditions (ie: commute length, usage type, access to charging) to gain maximum input to vehicle performance and customer needs.
As it becomes available, dashboard data from the 150 U.S. demonstration programs will be posted to this Web site. This in-use, readily available data will help consumers understand how the plug-in hybrid vehicles are being used, how they’re performing and if the vehicle might be right for them. As the vehicles gather miles, data such as fuel economy, miles driven, charge incidents and additional content will be viewable online. In addition, demonstration partners will be sharing data amongst themselves and comparing usage and performance of the vehicles.
This demonstration program is a necessary next-step in societal preparation in that it allows Toyota the unique opportunity to inform, educate and prepare customers for the electrification of the automobile in general, and the introduction of plug-in hybrid technology, in particular.
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