Dr Willie Smith with the new Prius PHV hybrid electric vehicle.
The UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering has been selected by Toyota Ireland to participate in a pre-launch evaluation programme of the forthcoming Prius PHV. The Prius PHV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle) is powered by a combination of mains electricity and regular, unleaded petrol. Equipped with a larger battery and more powerful electric motor than the current Prius hybrid, the PHV can travel 10-20 km on mains electricity alone at speeds of up to 110 km/h. For longer trips, or when higher speeds are demanded, the petrol engine seamlessly assumes its role. It offers the best of both worlds: in low-speed, urban traffic, it functions as a mains-powered electric vehicle, but for longer trips it acts as a conventional hybrid.
Toyota has initiated the programme to gain user feedback prior to launch onto the market. From a UCD perspective, the activity dovetails neatly with ongoing research in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering to analyse real-world vehicle usage patterns. The research, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, forms part of a larger investigation into the reduction of energy consumption and emissions from road transport.
UCD is the only Irish university selected to participate in the PHV evaluation programme, which incorporates a further eight companies including Google and ESB. All organisations were selected because of their commitment to energy conservation and a greener environment.