Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., (TMS) presented two Toyota plug-in (PHEV) hybrid prototypes to the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) and the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) as part of its on-going sustainable mobility development program with the two UC campuses.

"We feel there is tremendous promise in plug-in hybrids," said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "However, there are still many questions to be answered and challenges to be resolved before Toyota can bring a product to market that has the quality, durability and reliability that customers expect from us. The universities will help us and California better understand what it will take to turn these options into meaningful solutions."

Toyota has a long history of working collaboratively with both universities on the development of advanced technology and alternative-fuel vehicles, including demonstration and research programs involving fuel cell vehicles, gas-electric hybrids and pure electric vehicles. This next phase of the partnership involving plug-in hybrid vehicles is being funded jointly with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission (CEC). The goal of this program, which was authorized under California Assembly Bill 1811, is to incentivize the use and production of alternative fuels and vehicles.

"As the state with the nation"s most challenging air quality issues, California has a vital interest in developing and promoting the use of clean, cutting-edge automotive technologies, said Thomas Cackette, chief deputy executive officer of CARB. "The Air Resources Board is proud to play a pivotal role in financially supporting this plug-in hybrid project. We look forward to the results of the study and the potential implications this groundbreaking research may have for all of us in California who want cleaner transportation options."

The Toyota PHEVs delivered today are based on the current-generation Prius, the world"s first and most popular hybrid vehicle. The cars are powered by oversized packs of nickel-metal hydride batteries that effectively simulate the level of performance Toyota expects to achieve when it eventually develops more advanced, compact and powerful battery systems.

The prototypes are designed to run in electric mode more often, and at higher speeds, than the current Prius. This results in substantial gains in fuel economy and a major reduction in total tailpipe emissions. Reductions in CO2 emissions will vary depending on the source of the electricity that recharges the secondary battery. Charging is done conveniently, with an ordinary three-prong cord and household electrical outlet. The extra battery is housed in the trunk, taking up what was space for a spare tire.

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