The Government has signed an agreement with Toyota to deliver its new Prius Plug-In Hybrid vehicle to the Irish market. The vehicle, which is the first Toyota hybrid to use lithium-ion batteries, will be available on a trial basis here in advance of its full launch to the market in 2012.
As part of the trial, three vehicles will be based in Ireland. These will be placed with a number of leading Irish and multinational companies such UCD, RTE, Vodafone, Hewlett Packard, An Post, Bank of Ireland, Google and Coca-Cola in order to test them under variable, everyday driving conditions.
Ireland has set a target of 10% electric motoring by 2020, which equates to approximately 225,000 vehicles. In order to meet this target and incentivise the purchase of vehicles, a number of state supports have been established. From January next year, a grant of Eur5,000 towards the purchase of electric vehicles will be made available and electric vehicles will be vehicle registration tax exempt.
Toyota is the third car manufacturer with which the Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding in relation to electric vehicles. This, along with previous agreements with Nissan-Renault and Mitsubishi, offers a clear indication that the Government is positioning Ireland as a global test-bed for electric motoring and is committed to creating a favourable environment for the roll-out of electric vehicles here.
Toyota has also reached agreement with the state electricity utility ESB, which will see the sharing of information between both organisations in relation to the specifications and requirements of the recharging infrastructure. ESB is responsible for rolling out charging infrastructure – 2000 domestic and 1500 on-street charge points nationwide.
“Ireland is the perfect location for electric vehicle roll-out. As an island location with ideal driving distances, abundant wind power and successful technology industry, it makes sense to develop electric vehicles as a real alternative,” says Energy Minister Eamon Ryan TD. “We are truly ahead of the pack for electric motoring and the collaboration with Toyota will secure this position.”
Padraig McManus, chief executive of ESB, comments: “Ireland is an important market for ecars as we are one of the first countries in the world to develop a nationwide charging infrastructure and Toyota’s decision to test the Prius Plug-in here is an endorsement of this.”
There will be three Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicles used for the programme. These are the same size and design as the current third generation full hybrid Prius, but with a significant difference — in place of the nickel-metal hydride, high-performance battery in the car’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery is used.
This type of battery has the advantage of producing more power from less volume and weight, and it can be recharged through connection to a standard domestic or workplace electricity supply. As a result, the Prius Plug-in is able to run up to 20km further on its electric power alone (in EV mode), according to battery charge and road conditions, and at higher speeds – up to a maximum 100km/h.
Pictured (left to right): Padraig McManus, chief executive of ESB; Eamon Ryan, TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; and David Shannon, managing director of Toyota Ireland, at the introduction of the new Plug-in Prius Hybrid vehicles (PHV) to Ireland.