March 20, 2009 In a world of increasing green house gases and global warming, Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHV’s) appear to be one of the key technologies moving ahead, that hold genuine promise of a reduced carbon footprint. In a partnership between EDF and Toyota this promise looks even more optimistic. Today they announced a major step forward in their joint road-trials in France, involving the release of about 100 PHVs equipped with lithium-ion batteries and an innovative charging infrastructure.
The joint green program
Plug-in hybrid technology is not new and we have covered it in the past, including a modified Toyota Prius and even the luxury Fisker Karma sports car . However, what is presently limiting is the charging infrastructure to support these vehicles and a concerted effort by the power providers and the motor vehicle companies to get on with it and make it happen. This project between Toyota and EPS appears to be a genuine attempt to make the technology a genuine part of the future. The EDF-Toyota partnership, European road trials of PHV’s started in France in the Autumn of 2007 and was expanded to the UK last year. The program is part of a global Toyota project that will also be deployed in Japan and the US from the end of 2009. Toyota's main objective is to investigate further the technology and performance of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles. EDF's objective is to evaluate different operational options for the charging infrastructure. The joint goal is to broaden consumers' understanding and acceptance, in preparation for broad commercialization in the future.
The PHV’s will be leased to selected companies and partners in the Strasbourg area starting from the end of 2009, for duration of three years, says Toyota. This project has received financial support via the Research Fund managed by the French Environment and Energy Management Agency ADEME, following a call for projects on low-emitting vehicles.
The charging system
The vehicles will use a charging system which EDF says will ensure safe charging, communication between the plug and the vehicle, identification of the vehicle and invoicing of energy. For this demonstration, EDF and its subsidiary Electricité de Strasbourg (ES) will participate in a technical and financial partnership with all stakeholders, which will set up several hundred charging points at users' homes, at the facilities of partners, in public parking lots and on public roads.
The PHV uses Toyota’s hybrid technology but has the added benefit that its battery can be recharged using a standard electrical plug. The PHV can thus be driven as an electric vehicle for short distances, resulting in a silent, zero CO2 emissions drive. For longer distances, the PHV works as a conventional hybrid vehicle.