Due to its very brief recharge time (less than two hours), the battery opens up new scenarios regarding the needed infrastructure.
Today, at the Enel headquarters in Rome, Lorenzo Matthias, Public Relations General Manager for Toyota Motor Italia SpA, handed over the keys to a Prius Plug-in to Livio Vido from Enel Energia e Innovazione SpA.
This marks a further step in ongoing discussions between Toyota and Enel that should lead to a better understanding of the needs of potential customers of the Prius Plug-in, a full hybrid vehicle that can be recharged through the power grid. The two companies plan to conduct 3 years of field testing to gather the necessary information.
Toyota, the world leader in hybrid technology, recognized as such by customers according to the findings of a recent survey conducted by Business Intelligence EurotaxGlass and the Harris Institute of Marketing and Research, approached Enel, the undisputed leader in its field, to take part in the pilot project and combine their expertise in the field study. The focus is on analyzing the unique characteristics of this new Plug-in technology, which should be on the market next year, in order to gather data about customers’ needs as they relate to recharging the vehicle and to lay out possibilities for providing the right recharging infrastructure and appropriate services to customers.
The pilot project was launched last year across the world, with 600 Prius Plug-in vehicles being used in testing, 200 of which in Europe alone.
The Prius Plug-in is a hybrid car (gas and electric) that requires less than two hours of recharging from the power grid. It can run solely on electric power for around 20 km at a speed of up to 100 km/h. Once the autonomous electric power is exhausted, the vehicle shifts into normal hybrid mode until the next recharge.
The Prius Plug-in should be available starting in 2012, adding to Toyota’s already wide range of hybrid vehicles sold in Italy: the Prius and Auris HSD, sold under the Toyota brand, and the CT 200h, GS 450h, RX 450h and LS 600h, sold under the Lexus name.
This represents a step toward greater vehicle electrification, as compared with conventional hybrids, further reducing fuel consumption and emissions, without, however making the vehicle wholly electricity dependent with its related limitations, such as mandatory stops for recharging and restricted autonomy.
Toyota's strategy aims at a gradual electrification of driving using full hybrid technology, a platform that enables it to adjust the size of the electrics in the car according to the needs of final customers.
Toyota produces cars having a low environmental impact and has focused on hybrid (gas and electric) vehicles since 1997. Today, over 3 million Toyota hybrids are on the road throughout the world, using a technology platform that will lead to progressively more electrified vehicles.
Enel (enel.com), a leader in smart network operation systems, launched through Enel drive a set of pilot programs aimed at developing a ‘smart’ recharge infrastructure network, to guarantee a service which is wide spread, efficient and user friendly for drivers of electric vehicles.
Thanks to this joint program, Toyota and Enel will be able to collect field data that will enrich their understanding of the needs of potential future customers.