Monday newsbriefs #2

July 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Toyota has released data from its Prius PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) trial in London. The movements and performance of the 20-vehicle fleet, run in partnership with EDF Energy, have been analysed and “encouraging results” are reported. Most journeys the cars did were at an average speed and of a distance that the PHEV system could kick in to advantage; overall fuel efficiency was
27% better than than of  “an equivalent” diesel car.

In the first year of the three-year UK trial, the average journey was 7.3 miles; 59% of all journeys were 3.1-12.4 miles; average speed reached was 17.7mph; 69% of all journeys were at less than 18.6mph; average recharging time was 72 minutes and drivers with access to a domestic charging point recharged more frequently. The Prius PHEV can run up to 12.5 miles on battery power alone, and can be driven by its electric motor at speeds of up to 62mph – so it can do the majority of typical urban journeys in all-electric mode. 22% of users actually managed to get more than 12.5 miles in EV mode, and one-third of all mileage in the trial was electrically-driven.

Feedback from users so far has been “very positive”, says Toyota, and the study’s findings are in line with those from programmes elsewhere in Europe, including a 100-car trial in Strasbourg.

  • In other news: Taxi drivers could become ambassadors for more fuel-efficient driving techniques and road behaviour, according to a study by the RSA. More at Business Green. But will it make them go south of the river?
  • Portugal is to gain 1,300 new standard-speed EV charging points plus 50 fast-chargers, thanks to a partnership with Oracle Utilities, the non-profit firm Inteli and the country’s MOBI-E programme to install a recharging infrastructure. Portugal is also boasting that 43% of its electricity is now generated from renewable sources such as wind or hydropower.
  • What can the EU do with the 3.4 million tonnes of used tyres discarded each year? Only 38% are recycled – but tyres could be reused to make street infrastructure such as bollards, kerbs and pavements, according to the Eco-Rubber project.
  • There’s been a “less than electrifying” take-up of government grants to buy EVs in the UK, according to the RAC Foundation, with just 215 EVs bought through the scheme in the second quarter of the year. 465 were bought in the first quarter since the grants – of up to £5000 to subsidise the cost of buying an EV – were introduced, but there are still fewer 2,500 or so EVs on the UK’s roads. The RAC Foundation reckons that “the figures show how difficult it will be to get UK motorists  to own and drive the greenest cars available on the market”, citing purchase costs, battery longevity and depreciation as concerns. The SMMT and DfT are both forecasting growth in the EV market next year, however, saying that it’s early days yet.
  • Comment – in a roundabout way – on the above by Robert Llewellyn, dedicated EV campaigner, at The Charging Point. Worth clicking through to read his explanation of grid balancing.
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