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Toyota joins effort to create world’s first fully smart-grid city

Toyota Plug In HybridToyota has become the first auto-maker to take part in a project aiming to create the first fully functioning smart grid-enabled city in the world.

As part of Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity™ project, Toyota will place 10 Prius plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) in Boulder, Colorado. The cars will be the focus of a research project coordinated by the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a new joint venture between the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The project will gather data on vehicle performance and charging patterns, consumer behaviour and preferences, as well as electric utility/customer interactions. The Colorado location also offers the additional benefit of monitoring high altitude, cold climate performance of Toyota’s first generation lithium-ion battery.

The SmartGridCity initiative aims to provide increased grid reliability and energy use information. It will also allow participating customers to remotely control in-home energy management devices.

“We know that PHVs coupled with smart charging techniques can reduce carbon emissions,” said Jay Herrmann, regional vice president for Xcel Energy. “Partnerships like this can bring us closer to delivering new solutions that can conserve energy, save natural resources and reduce dependence on foreign oil.”

The 10 vehicles participating in the project are part of a 150-vehicle demonstration fleet arriving in the US in early 2010. The Prius PHV is targeted to achieve a maximum electric-only range of approximately 12 miles and will be capable of achieving highway speeds in electric-only mode. For longer distances, the PHV concept reverts to “hybrid mode” and operates like a regular Prius.

The vehicles are targeted for delivery to the SmartCityGrid project in March 2010.

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