Zipcar Gets Prius Plug-In Hybrid Love

Attention Zipcar members in Boston/Cambridge, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon: the next time you pick up some “wheels when you need them,” you may be driving a Prius plug-in hybrid  vehicle (PHV).

The eight new vehicles slated to join the Zipcar car-sharing network in these locations are part of a new pilot program by Toyota designed to demonstrate plug-in hybrid tech, gather data on PHVs in the real world, evaluate plug-in hybrid technology and gain increased intelligence on how electric vehicles in general can fit into a large-scale car-sharing model–all while helping to educate and prepare the public for “the electrification of the automobile.” (And, of course, for the launch of the Prius PHV nationwide in 2012.)

Zipcar Prius PHV

image via Zipcar

Will these cars work for for the kind of trips typical of Zipcars? Zipcar believes the answer is ‘yes,’ as the Prius PHV can travel electric-only at speeds of up to 62 mph for approximately 13 miles, after which it shifts to operate as a conventional Prius hybrid, averaging an estimated 50 miles per gallon.

Because many trips taken by Zipcar members are fewer than 13 miles, many PHV trips will be emission-free–allowing Zipcar members to rely on the electric charge for shorter trips, with the assurance of hybrid-gas backup for longer trips (or for use between charges). The car recharges via a standard 110-volt wall outlet in three hours.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.