Manitobans will be among the first in the world to actively test Toyota’s new Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV), Innovation, Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak announced today, as the province took delivery of the new car, teaming up with Manitoba Hydro, the University of Manitoba and Toyota Canada to put it through its paces.
“Our climate, previous experience with plug-in hybrid technology and Manitoba’s abundant hydro electricity made this province a fantastic choice for these trials,” said Chomiak. “These trials will help position Manitoba to adopt this greenhouse gas-reducing technology early. Having electrically powered vehicles would make Manitoba more fuel self-sufficient. It could also create opportunities for Manitobans to develop related products and services as well as expertise in researching and developing components for electric vehicles.”
“Toyota is grateful to have such important partners join us as we work together to gather invaluable real-world impressions and feedback,” said Toyota Canada Inc. managing director Stephen Beatty. “We’re not surprised since Manitoba has already shown great vision in planning for a more sustainable future for personal transportation.”
“This project will help the province prepare for what a transition to electrically powered vehicles might mean for the grid,” said Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Bob Brennan. “Manitoba has an existing plug-in infrastructure for block heaters and a population familiar with plugging vehicles in during cold weather. We also have a source of electricity to charge vehicles that is 98 per cent renewable from clean hydroelectricity, which is important if electric vehicles are to have the maximum impact in reducing harmful greenhouse-gas emissions.”
The PHV test project will enable Manitoba and its partners to understand how electric vehicles work in the province’s climate and assess the impact it will have on the electric grid, Chomiak noted. In this project, a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle will be shared by the province, Manitoba Hydro and the University of Manitoba for one year. The vehicle will be driven by various drivers under a variety of scenarios and data will be gathered by logging devices installed by Toyota. The partnership will provide the province and the manufacturer the opportunity to work directly with and learn from each other, providing a major auto manufacturer with a unique understanding of cold weather issues, the minister added.
The province has already gained significant experience over the past year with 10 PHVs that went through after-market conversion here in Manitoba. The results of the first year of those tests were also released today.
Hybrid vehicles that use gas combustion assisted by electricity are a common sight on Manitoba’s roads. This PHV represents the next step in the technology and it operates primarily on electricity with gas combustion as a back up. The vehicle can be plugged in and charged at home at night and used to commute to work the next day.
The consumer version of the Prius PHV is expected to be available to the general public in 2012. More information about consumer test-drive events is available at www.facebook.com/ToyotaCanadaPriusPlugIn.