Toyota lends 163 plug-in Prius prototypes to Zipcar, universities, utilities

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 31, 2011

Toyota is doing some last-minute testing on the Prius plug-in-hybrid version, which will have its retail launch about a year from now. A total of 163 plug-in Prius prototypes are distributed to universities, utilities and car-sharing services such as Zipcar.

The biggest group composed of 18 Prius vehicles was sent to the University of Colorado-Boulder through Xcel Energy’s SmartGrid project.

Other groups that will get the plug-in Prius prototype are the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Portland State University, the California Center for Sustainable Energy and the Clean Cities Coalition of New York.

To test how the vehicles perform with higher mileage, eight vehicles were lent to Zipcar’s fleets in San Francisco, Boston and Portland. CuseCar, a car-sharing program in Syracuse, N.Y., is also a participant. Toyota spokeswoman Jana Hartline said that the company aimed for “a lot of various-use cases.”

She said that the different scenarios include cycling through households for day-to-day driving, on service calls such as with San Diego Gas & Electric, and those that have access to daytime charging while others have Level 1 charging.

These vehicles will be loaned for 12 months but consumers may opt to extend to 18 months. Toyota dealerships will perform the data uploads on the Priuses to analyze driving and charging patterns. Toyota will also conduct surveys on those that drive these vehicles. [via autonews - sub. required]

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