Toyota To Lease 150 Plug-In Hybrids In European Test, U.S. By 2010S

Toyota will lease over 150 experimental Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHV) to selected European fleets with France as the first country participating in the three-year pilot. Toyota will bring some PHV testers stateside starting in 2010.

Toyota to lease over 150 experimental PHVs in Europe

Toyota Motor Europe (TME) will lease over 150 units of its experimental Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV), to selected fleet customers across Europe as a critical next step towards commercialisation. France will be the first country to participate in the three-year pilot, with discussions ongoing in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. Based on Toyota's full hybrid technology, the new PHV will come equipped with a powerful lithium-ion battery, extending the vehicle's range in electric vehicle mode for a silent and zero-emissions drive. The first wave of PHVs will reach Strasbourg in late 2009.

‘In the future, the PHV will be the perfect complement to Prius. 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,' said Tadashi Arashima, President and Chief Executive Officer of TME. ‘There is no better time to put our new PHV through its paces. We have to assess its performance in a variety of markets with different infrastructure constraints, driving conditions and customer expectations,' he added.

Toyota's PHV overcomes the obstacles historically associated with electric vehicles – e.g. high battery weight and costs, and limited cruising range – while enhancing the benefits of Toyota's full hybrid technology. On the new generation Prius, these benefits include best-in-class CO2 emissions of just 89 g/km, exceptional fuel efficiency, seamless acceleration and quiet driving.

A PHV can be driven as an electric vehicle for city commutes, while for high-speed, long-distance journeys it operates as a full hybrid, with its petrol engine serving as both a power source and battery generator when required. The battery is charged during driving, deceleration or braking, or by connecting its plug to a standard electrical point at home or at work.

In partnership with EDF, Toyota has been road-testing a PHV (equipped with a Nickel Metal Hydride battery) in Europe since 2007. Around 100 units of the new lithium-ion PHV will be leased to selected fleet customers and public bodies in Strasbourg, France, for a period of three years.

Part of the Strasbourg-based PHV fleet will come equipped with an innovative charging system that ensures safe charging, communication between the plug and the vehicle, identification of the vehicle and automatic invoicing of electricity. A large number of charging points will also be established in users' homes, the offices of business partners, in public parking lots and on public roads.

Toyota will deploy over 500 new PHVs globally – including in Europe, Japan and the US – by 2010.