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UK to play a part in plug-in Prius trials

Date: 20 May 2009

The UK will play a part in Toyota's trials of its Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle, based on the new Prius coming this summer, with a small number of cars set to be placed with UK fleets early next year.

Along with Germany, Holland and France, the UK market has been chosen for the trials, with 150 vehicles heading to Europe. Two-thirds of that number are already allocated to fleets and public sector bodies in Strasbourg, France. In total, Toyota is targeting a deployment of 500 card in Europe, Japan and the US by 2010. Toyota had previously been trialling the technology on the current-generation Prius, in association with power firm EDF, but the new move signifies a stepping-up of activity.

The system works as an extension of the Prius's hybrid system, with the lithium-ion battery charged either by plugging into the mains electricity or by the regular hybrid system of regeneration via deceleration or braking. A petrol engine is also available either to power the car or renew the battery.

"In the future, the PHV will be the perfect compliment to Prius," said Tadashi Arashima, chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe. "It offers a low-carbon transport solution for customers wanting to drive longer distances using electricity, while still experiencing the traditional benefits of a full hybrid."

"There is no better time to put our new PHV through its paces," he said. "We have to assess its performance in a variety of markets with different infrastructure constraints, driving conditions and customer expectations."