Fleet News

Real-world capital test for plug-in technology

Five London-based fleets will begin trialling four pre-production plug-in hybrid cars each next month in the largest three-year trial to date of how such vehicles are used in real-world conditions.

The cars – the first Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrids in the UK – will be used by Transport for London, the Government Car and Despatch Agency, the Metropolitan Police Service, News International and Sky to provide data on drivers’ attitudes and on how drivers use of these cars differs from how they use standard cars. Information will also be gathered on the real-life energy savings and reduced emissions to help Toyota’s plans on introducing these plug-in hybrids to the market in three years’ time. EDF energy will also use the data to plan where recharging points should be located and which recharging technologies are best.

Toyota teamed up with EDF Energy to introduce the leasing programme as part of the government-funded Technology Strategy Board Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme. The new Government committed itself to a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. 

The cars are essentially the same as the current third-generation full hybrid Prius, but they are equipped with a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged by being connected to a standard 240V electricity supply.

EDF Energy has identified appropriate plug, socket, wiring and cabling specifications to comply with BS7671 safety standards, while maintaining ease of use. The charging points incorporate a keypad that enables each user and vehicle to be identified when recharging takes place.

The rechargeable battery technology gives Prius Plug-in extended capabilities when it is driven in EV (electric vehicle) mode: capable of running for up to 12.5 miles solely on its electric motor – battery charge and road conditions permitting – at speeds up to 62mph, it can accomplish the great majority of typical urban journeys with zero fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. Prius Plug-in’s combined cycle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 108.6mpg and 59g/km respectively.

Should the battery charge be used up in the course of a journey, Prius Plug-in will switch to power from its 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol engine, meaning the driver need suffer no “range anxiety”.

As part of a worldwide initiative involving 600 Prius Plug-in, 200 of which are in Europe, the London programme will support Toyota’s plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid vehicle to the market within the next few years.

EDF Energy is working with the Greater London Authority with the aim of installing up to 550 public access charging points across the capital, as part of the Plugged in Places programme. 

  • 20 Prius Plug-in Hybrid cars will be tested for three years by five London fleets
  • The data collected will provide Toyota, EDF Energy and the Government with real-world intelligence on user behaviour and attitudes, vehicle performance and energy recharging and infrastructure issues
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery gives Prius Plug-in extended electric-only driving range with zero fuel consumption and zero tailpipe emissions
  • Combined cycle fuel consumption 108.6mpg and 59g/km CO2
  • Charging points will be installed at workplaces, on-street and domestic locations
  • Programme paves the way for commercialisation of Prius Plug-in within the next few years

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