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Toyota is teaming with Massey University to
trial its new Plug-in Hybrid technology
New Zealand is one of a select group of countries chosen to participate in a two-year global field trial of the Plug-in Hybrid Prius.
Unlike the standard Prius, these vehicles feature lithium-ion batteries and can be charged with normal household 240 volt power.
The Plug-in Hybrid can travel as an electric only vehicle for up to 30 kilometres, achieving highway speeds up to 100 kilometres per hour.
For longer distances, the vehicle functions as a conventional petrol-electric hybrid, which means its use is not constrained by remaining battery power or the lack of a battery-charging infrastructure.
Toyota Japan has placed approximately 600 vehicles with key markets globally through their international distribution network. Customers include government and other public agencies, along with electric power companies and other entities who will gain an introductory taste of eco-cars.
Toyota New Zealand has received three Plug-in Hybrid Prius vehicles. Two will be placed with New Zealand's largest tertiary institution, Massey University, and the third will be used for detailed analysis by Toyota New Zealand at its National Customer Centre in Palmerston North.
Alistair Davis, CEO of Toyota New Zealand said Massey University was chosen due to the close partnership between the two organisations.
"We have forged a great relationship through helping Massey meet its fleet needs, and Massey's commitment towards defining a more sustainable motoring fleet solution encouraged Toyota to select it for the trial," Alistair Davis said.
Massey Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says it is delighted to participate in the international trial of the new Plug-in Hybrid Prius: "The university made a commitment in 2008 to move its vehicle fleet to cleaner and more sustainable technology and chose to do that in partnership with Toyota. One of our big goals is to act responsibly and enhance our reputation as New Zealand's defining university by responding innovatively to environmental issues."
The trial will provide data for Toyota and for consumers about the benefits and the challenges involved in the electrification of vehicles, including the overall performance of lithium-ion batteries.
Toyota is committed to reducing fuel consumption by improving the efficiency of powertrains and making hybrid technology more popular across its range in its bid to promote greater sustainability in motoring.
"We believe plug-in hybrid technology is the most practical approach to the use of electricity for regular size passenger cars, and Toyota in Japan has conducted verification tests using the plug-in hybrid system for the previous generation Prius in both Japan and Europe since 2007," said Mr Davis.
Toyota believes the Plug-in Hybrid provides the most realistic pathway towards the ultimate eco car as pure electric vehicles have a limited range. The Plug-in Hybrid model can continue to operate even after the 'electric only' range is exceeded meaning drivers don't have to worry about being stranded with a flat battery.