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UC Irvine to test and analyze new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle


The Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine will evaluate a prototype Toyota plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV, as part of a nearly $3 million research effort to determine how the widespread use of such technology would affect air quality and the demand for electricity in California.

PHEVs are plugged in to electrical outlets to charge onboard batteries that allow them to operate on electricity longer than today’s hybrid vehicles.

UC Irvine will receive $1.4 million over two years under a $25 million statewide program designed to develop alternative fuel projects that reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The Incentive Program for Alternative Fuels, authorized under Assembly Bill 1811, is administered by the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission. Toyota will contribute the PHEV prototype and engineering support during the study.

“This affords the state a tremendous opportunity to better understand this emerging vehicle technology, and we are excited to be a part of this effort,” said APEP Director Scott Samuelsen, professor of mechanical, aerospace and environmental engineering in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

The Advanced Power and Energy Program will collaborate with the Air Resources Board, the Energy Commission, Toyota, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Horiba and Southern California Edison on air pollutant emission and air quality modeling efforts, emissions test certification strategies, and electrical grid impacts. APEP also will work closely with the Institute for Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. UC Berkeley received a separate $750,000 award to study user response to PHEV and fuel cell vehicle technologies.

Toyota announced today that it will provide pre-commercial versions of its PHEV to UC Irvine and UC Berkeley as part of the company’s ongoing Sustainable Mobility Development Program. The news coincides with an announcement in Japan that its Ministry of Transportation has certified the use of similar prototypes for testing on Japan’s public roads. Delivery of the vehicles is expected to take place later this year.

The PHEVs will be the only Toyota vehicles of their kind provided to universities in the United States.

“UCI has been a great research partner for many years, and the research to be conducted on the air quality impacts of plug-in hybrids will be critical in making key development decisions about the technology,” said Dave Illingworth, senior vice president and chief planning officer for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.

“It is very good news that Toyota is now developing pre-commercial plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for this important study,” said John E. Bryson, chairman and chief executive officer of Edison International. “We look forward to having our electric vehicle team join the UCI researchers and Toyota employees in evaluating the impact of plug-in hybrids on the electric grid. The national electric infrastructure is a major resource for enabling future clean transportation.”

The new research project represents the latest chapter in a longstanding partnership between Toyota and APEP. In April 2002, the National Fuel Cell Research Center launched the ZEV•NET (Zero Emission Vehicle • Network Enabled Transport) program using Toyota’s RAV4 fully electric vehicles in a demonstration program that continues today.

Later that year, Toyota delivered the United States’ first fuel cell hybrid vehicle, the Toyota FCHV, to the fuel cell research center. The delivery initiated the center’s successful Fuel Cell Vehicle Deployment Program, designed to assess consumer response to fuel cell vehicle technology.

Toyota also partnered with the center and others in the development of the UC Irvine Hydrogen Fueling Station, currently recognized as the most advanced in the United States.

“Advancing vehicle technologies that are more fuel efficient and better for the planet fully complements APEP’s overarching interest in sustainable energy technologies,” Samuelsen said.


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