Toyota has teamed up with French utility company EDF to test feasibility of PHEV Prius and the vehicles ability to recharge using only the power of the sun.

Toyota has received funding from the government of Strasbourg that will be used to convert 100 current generation Toyota Priuses to plug-in vehicles.  The conversion process will entail removing the current nickel metal hydride batteries and replacing them with larger lithium-ion batteries to allow the vehicle to have an electric only range and plug-in capability.

The vehicles will be tested for durability, fuel economy, and other real world applications.  Plug-in Priuses are already on the roads today, but most are made by conversion companies such as Hymotion, and are not factory made by Toyota.  This real world test will give Toyota vital information needed to determine if they should green light a plug-in Prius model.

Additionally, Toyota and EDF will work together to convert the rooftops of some local area homes to full solar panel roofs.  They will use this setup to charge the plug-ins and evaluate how the system works as a whole.  Solar power is capable of charging a vehicle, but EDF wants to look into various cost factors involved and wants to determine the capacity needed to charge a Prius sized plug-in.

Together, EDF and Toyota hope to determine many aspects related to plug-in vehicles.  It's just another step in the process towards France's efforts to become the world wide electric vehicle leader, and another possible hybrid model to increase Toyota's dominance in the field.

Source:  Wards Auto (Login required)