PARIS –Motor Corp. will test 100 plug-in hybrid Prius models in eastern France late this year.
The 3-year experiment, partly funded by France and the French electric utility EDF, will parallel similar studies in the U.S. and Japan.
The test in Strasbourg, near the German border, will involve government agencies and businesses. The EDF will evaluate recharging options, andwill evaluate the lithium-ion batteries that will be used in the cars.
France and Europe household current is 240 volts, twice the typical voltage in Japan and the U.S., so recharging should take less time. However, the participants are designing the outlet and plug to be used, which could be something unique.
The EDF will set up charging stations at users’ homes, work places and public parking spaces.
The companies say a new recharging system will assure a safe transfer of electric power, with communication between the vehicle and the outlet. The outlet will know the identity of the vehicle and will charge the owner for the electricity consumed.
A big question in the world of electric cars is establishing a standard so that cars from different manufacturers can recharge in the same way across national borders. A spokeswoman for the EDF says discussions are ongoing over the question of standardization, but the Strasbourg experiment is unrelated.
EDF and Toyota have worked together in Paris on plug-in hybrids since late 2007, and they extended tests last year to London. Those operations used older battery technology.
Toyota has not communicated technical details on its Li-ion battery, but the intention is to have an electric-only range for the Prius that will cover typical daily needs of 6-12 miles (10-20 km).
In the study, Toyota will learn how much range real drivers actually get and how real drivers act with their cars, while the EDF will learn about recharging habits. The experiment also will help publicize the environmental benefits of plug-in hybrids.
Toyota is France’s third largest auto maker, with a factory in northern France producing the Yaris.