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Results from data collected from a fleet of Toyota Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV) throughout London have shown that average fuel consumption in the city is 27 percent better than an equivalent diesel car.

Toyota are clearly excited by the findings as the real world data collected from a fleet of 20 leased PHEVs to businesses operating in London means that Plug-in Hybrid vehicles clearly demonstrate vastly improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions over diesels and other less practical personal transport technologies.

Toyota’s third generation Prius provides the basis for the PHEV and is equipped with an advanced lithium-ion battery that allows the car to be driven at higher speeds and over longer distances on electric power only.

CarAdvice has driven one of these Toyota PHEVs and was more than impressed as the vehicle accelerated to 100km/h without the need to engage the petrol engine. It’s was quite a revelation into just how rapid this kind of technology is advancing and how useable it really is.

Charging infrastructure is already in place across parts of London, which allow drivers of the PHEVs to simply top up the battery by plugging in at a dedicated power outlet at their workplace, or at street charging point or indeed, at home in the garage.

The Toyota PHEV program in London runs for three years, but the data collected so far, has been over a one-year period and the results are interesting, to say the least.

• Average journey distance has been 7.3 miles, with 59 per cent of all journeys covering between 3.1 and 12.4 miles
• Average speed has been 17.7mph, with 69 per cent of journeys at speeds less than 18.6mph
• Initial fuel consumption data indicate performance is 27 per cent better than an equivalent diesel
• Average recharging time is 72 minutes
• Where drivers have access to a domestic charge point, more frequent recharging occurs

Of course there are plenty of cities around the world that are as busy and as congested as London; New York, Paris and Athens to name just a few, and it’s these environments where PHEVs are the most efficient and could make a real difference to air quality through significantly less fuel consumption.

Toyota’s PHEV is capable of traveling 20 kilometres on its electric motor alone (EV mode) and depending on the charge and road conditions – at speeds up to 100km/h.

The data collected over the past year in London provides a seriously strong case for the use of Plug-in Hybrid vehicles in congested cities around the world given the potential for zero petrol consumption and exhaust emissions.

Is it time to introduce a zero emissions policy in the world’s busiest cities?