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Toyota recently got the OK to go into the plug-in game in Japan, and now the super-best number one awesome automaker from the land of the rising sun's looking to do the same in France. Toyota and Electricite de France SA (EDF) are working together to "evaluate Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles in Europe." Why's Toyota need EDF's help? Well, no plug-in technology's going to be considered viable unless there's an infrastructure set up for plugging in the cars. Word on the street is that although EDF's deal with Toyota is expected to cover France at first it could be extended to other countries. Maybe this was the "innovation" Toyota was talking about in their Frankfurt Auto Show press release from a few days ago. Or maybe we'll just have to wait until the Tokyo Auto Show to know for sure. Full press release below the jump.

EDF and Toyota announce European technology partnership for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles EDF and Toyota have today announced a new technology partnership to evaluate Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHV) in Europe. The objective is to develop practical solutions for the commercialisation of Toyota's prototype vehicle technology, which can further reduce the environmental impact of vehicles especially in urban areas. Under the joint agreement, a small number of PHVs will be integrated into EDF's fleet and will be tested on public roads in France under every-day driving conditions. Road trials of the PHV will commence in France in the autumn and may be expanded to other European countries in the future. The vehicles use Toyota's hybrid technology but with the added benefit that their batteries can be recharged using a standard electrical plug. Toyota's PHV technology combines a gasoline engine with an electric motor and a battery which can be charged in two ways: either whilst the vehicle is driving and by recovering energy otherwise lost during braking, or by connecting the vehicle to an electric supply source at home, work or at a public charging station. For short journeys, a PHV would rely more on electric power, offering significant reductions in CO2 emissions through reduced consumption of fossil fuels. For longer distances, it would switch to a combined electric/gasoline mode. EDF and Toyota have also developed an innovative charging and invoicing system, equipped in each of the test vehicles. This system is compatible with a new generation of public charging stations, which aim to make electric power more accessible on public roads and car parks and to reduce the cost to the customer. For more than 40 years, EDF has acted to promote the use of electricity for transport and rechargeable vehicles, in-line with its strategy of sustainable development. Mr Pierre Gadonneix, President and CEO of EDF said: "I am delighted by this partnership between EDF and Toyota on a new generation of vehicles. This innovation is a promising move towards acceptance of electricity as a competitive and ecologically-viable source of energy for European motorists. It strives to reconcile the challenges of individual mobility, economic growth and environmental impacts". "This new collaboration marks an important milestone in advancing global capability in the area of alternative fuel sources for transport, which we believe are critical to society's future," said Mr. Masatami Takimoto, Executive Vice-President of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). "We are proud to partner such a leading European energy supplier as EDF, with whom we share a common vision towards sustainable mobility."

The EDF Group, one of the leaders in the energy market in Europe, is an energy specialist that is active in
all the businesses of electricity: production, transport, distribution, energy supply and trading. The Group is the leading electricity producer in Europe. In France, it has mainly nuclear and hydraulic production facilities where 95% of the electricity output involves no CO2 emissions. EDF operates over 1,200,000 km of low and medium voltage overhead and underground electricity lines and around 100,000 km of high and very high voltage networks. The Group is involved in supplying energy and services to close to 38 million customers around the world, including more than 28 million in France. The Group generated consolidated sales of € 58.9 billion in 2006, of which 42 % were generated in Europe excluding France. Net income (Group share) stood at € 5.6 billion, with net income from ordinary operations at € 4.2 billion. EDF is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange and is a member of the CAC 40 index.

Toyota is one of the leading car manufacturers in Europe, with eight manufacturing plants across the
continent including Valenciennes in France. The company is committed to reducing the impact of the
automobile on the environment at all stages of the product's life-cycle; design, production use and disposal.

2007 marks ten years of hybrid leadership for Toyota since the launch of its first mass-produced hybrid
vehicle in 1997. Having sold over one million hybrid units worldwide and over 100,000 in Europe, the company now aims to sell one million hybrid units a year globally in the early 2010s.