Toyota, EDF trial plug-in Prius in Britain

LONDON Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:15am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Japanese carmaker Toyota UK and French utility EDF are starting three year trial of the Plug-In hybrid Prius car in Britain, the companies said on Monday.

The trial of the part electric charge, part petrol hybrid engine car is intended to study customer behavior and response to plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHV). The Plug-in Prius is different from wholly electric vehicles as it can be run from a charged battery or conventional petrol fuel.

"During the programme, we will be demonstrating the capabilities of PHVs over the three year trials starting in July. Running in real world conditions, 20 plug-in hybrids will be leased to a number of London-based public sector organizations and business users," managing director Miguel Fonseca said at the launch.

The Plug-in Prius will be able to travel around 12 miles on a full one and a half hour charge but switch to the hybrid engine during long drives or when more acceleration is needed, Fonseca said.

It would also use a lithium-ion battery instead of a nickel-hydrate metal battery which is used for the standard Prius, he added, with the full plug-in hybrid car launch expected in 2012..

As part of the Plug-in Prius trial, EDF said it would install a number of charging bays around London.

EDF forecast Britain will have 1.5 million low-carbon vehicles by 2025.

(Reporting by Kwok W. Wan; editing by William Hardy)