Prius Plug In Sings Rocky Mountain High

Toyota is moving forward with its plan to dole out a small number of Prius Plug-in Hybrids (PHV) in the United States for testing this year, with Boulder, Colorado being the latest site chosen for a field study beginning this month.

The company is supplying 18 PHVs to the University of Colorado’s Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a joint venture with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The goal, RASEI said in a press release, is to learn more about “the household experiences and the technical impacts of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles … in a ‘smart grid’ environment.”

image via Toyota

Two other interesting aspects to the Boulder study: First, researchers say it will allow them to see how Toyota’s first-generation lithium-ion battery fares at high altitudes and in cold weather. Second, while such studies are often announced with fanfare and then not heard from again, the Boulder researchers are hoping to stir discussion as the study unfolds on a community blog.

The Prius PHV is said to take about three hours to charge from a standard 110-volt electrical outlet—half that time from a 220-volt electrical outlet. It claims a range of 13 miles in electric-only mode, with the hybrid kicking in like a regular Prius for distances beyond that.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • http://cupluginhybrid.org Dragan M.

    From a CU-Boulder researcher: this is a nice summary of the PHV study at CU-Boulder. We will indeed try to keep the Community Blog at cupluginhybrid.org up to date. Some test drive results will be posted in the near future.