Before pushing its plug-in hybrid Prius into the retail market, Toyota wants various fleets around the world to evaluate the PHEV in some real-world testing. Fleets around the world have previously sampled the plug-in Prius, but the automaker announced today that five additional prototypes are headed towards New York City.
According to Toyota, two plug-in Prius models will be incorporated into the New York City Department of Transportation's fleet, while another three cars will be loaned to the vehicle pool maintained by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The five cars are part of Toyota's worldwide demonstration program, which has placed 600 plug-in Priuses with fleets around the globe. Toyota launched the program in 2009 to drum up real-world feedback on the car, and has loaned vehicles to fleets maintained by San Diego Gas & Electric, the California Center for Sustainable Energy, , and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, amongst others.
"Toyota and New York City share a commitment to building a more environmentally sustainable future for New York, making the Prius Plug-in Hybrid partnership a natural fit," said Yoshi Inaga, president and COO of Toyota North America. "As we strive to bring advanced technology and alternative fuel vehicles to market that will not only benefit our customers but also the environment, these real world partnerships are critical to the success of the program."
In addition to learning about the plug-in hybrid for development, Toyota views the program as a means to educate consumers of the benefits and uses of plug-in hybrids. In fact, the company plans on publishing all data compiled during the demo program on a dedicated public Web site. By educating consumers about how a plug-in hybrid can be used and demonstrating actual charging times, miles travelled and on what form of propulsion, Toyota hopes to jumpstart the plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle market.
When Toyota's Prius PHEV reaches consumers in 2012, it will use a lithium-ion battery pack (a first for Toyota) capable of propelling the car 13 miles on electricity alone at speeds up to 62 mph. After the driver exceeds those 13 miles, the vehicle's hybrid drive system will function like that of a standard Prius. Toyota claims that the battery pack can be fully recharged in three hours from a standard 110-volt outlet or in only 90 minutes using a 220-volt outlet.