Now that Toyota’s plug-in hybrid development is no longer a secret, the company is putting plug-in prototypes on the road in Japan and California to further improve the technology. The Toyota Plug-in HV, a test platform based on the production hybrid Prius, has been approved for public road use by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport – the first certification of its kind. Toyota will field eight vehicles in Japan to verify the electric-only cruising range and optimal battery capacity.
The Prius PHEV is based on a third generation Toyota Prius (model ZVW30) outfitted with 5.2 kWh lithium-ion batteries co-developed with Panasonic,which enable all-electric operation at higher speeds and longer distances than the conventional Prius hybrid.
The Prius plug-in total all-electric range is 13 mi (21 km) with speeds up to 62 mph (100 km/h).The lithium-ion battery pack can be charged in 180 minutes at 100 volts or in 100 minutes at 200 volts.The Prius plug-in is rated at 134 mpg-US (1.76 L/100 km; 161 mpg-imp) with a combined efficiency based on a 43.6 % of driving in EV mode and CO2 emissions of 41 g/km. Fuel efficiency operating as a gasoline-electric hybrid, like the regular Prius, is 72 mpg-US (3.3 L/100 km; 86 mpg-imp) with CO2 emissions of 76 g/km.
A global demonstration program involving 600 pre-production test cars began in late 2009 and will continue in 2010 in Japan, Europe, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.The commercial version is expected to sell for around USD 48,000 (ouch) and production during the first year is expected to vary between 20,000 and 30,000 units.
The Plug-in HV features two major changes over the production Prius. Toyota has doubled the battery capacity to 13 amp-hours by installing a larger nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery pack. Accordingly, the overall weight of the prototype is about 70 pounds greater than a stock Prius. Toyota says the larger NiMH battery pack is meant to simulate the level of performance the company expects to achieve when it eventually develops its own more compact and powerful battery systems, presumably with lithium-ion batteries. The other major modification is the addition of plug-in capability. Plugging into a standard 110-volt household outlet via a socket located on the rear fender will fully replenish the batteries in three to four hours.
The increased battery capacity means electric-only driving range is extended to approximately eight miles. The Plug-in HV is also capable of driving electrically at speeds up to 62 mph before the 1.5-liter gasoline engine turns on. Maximum electric-only cruising speed in the production Prius is 42 mph. This electric-only range is not as great as some of the unofficial Prius conversions that have been demonstrated in California and elsewhere. Nevertheless, Toyota reportedly claims that even with this experimental number, substantial gains in fuel economy and a major reduction in total tailpipe emissions over current conventional hybrid systems can be achieved.
The Prius Plug-in uses three different batteries, two to provide all-electric drive and a third battery engages when the first two are depleted, allowing the car to operate in hybrid mode, like a regular 50-mpg Prius. According to Toyota, when the vehicle starts, the plug-in operates in all-electric mode, drawing electrical power directly from the first battery pack. When its charge is depleted, it disconnects from the circuit and the second pack engages and supplies electrical energy to the motor. When the second pack is depleted again it disconnects from the circuit and the system defaults to conventional hybrid mode, using the main battery as the sole electrical power source. Pack one and pack two will not reengage in tandem with the main battery pack until the vehicle is plugged in and charged.
According to Toyota a total of 600 Prius plug-in demonstration vehicles will be available for lease to fleet and government customers, 200 will be delivered in Europe and 230 Japan in late December 2009, along with 150 models to be released in the U.S. by early 2010. All program vehicles will be sent to limited geographical areas and will be equipped with special data tracking devices designed to allow Toyota to monitor the car’s usage for further development of the plug-in hybrid system.
In March 2010 Toyota launched its demonstration program in Canada with five Prius Plug-ins in partnership with academic institutions, hydro-electric producers, and governmental agencies in each of the four provinces participating in the program, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec. Canada is home to Toyota’s global cold weather research center in Northern Ontario, and the country’s cold weather will serve to evaluate its adverse effect on battery performance and range.
Toyota wil lease approximately 200 units in Europe, with approximately 100 going to Strasbourg, France. Other countries where the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will also be introduced are the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, and another eight European countries that are being considered
The demonstration program in Strasbourg was launched in April 2010.The 3-year program involves around 100 Prius Plug-ins and the deployment of dedicated charging infrastructure. The program will set up more than 150 charging points at private parking lots of firms participating in the program, user homes, public parking lots and on public roads
The demonstration program in Germany will be conducted in Baden-Württemberg with ten Prius Plug-ins and the corresponding dedicated charging infrastructure. The program will be run by German energy provider EnBW.
The demonstration test in the U.K. will include only 20 Prius plug-ins.
In Japan, TMC will lease approximately 230 units to government ministries, local governments selected for the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s EV & PHV Towns program, corporations such, as electric power companies, and other entities
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