French electricity company EDF and Toyota have today announced a new technology partnership to evaluate Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHVs) in Europe.

The objective is to develop practical solutions for the commercialisation of Toyota's prototype vehicle technology, which can further reduce the environmental impact of vehicles especially in urban areas.

Under the joint agreement, a small number of PHVs will be integrated into EDF's fleet and will be tested on public roads in France under everyday driving conditions.

 Road trials of the PHV will commence in France in the autumn and may be expanded to other European countries in the future.

The vehicles use Toyota's hybrid technology but with the added benefit that their batteries can be recharged using a standard electrical plug.

Toyota's PHV technology combines a gasoline engine with an electric motor and a battery which can be charged in two ways: either whilst the vehicle is driving and by recovering energy otherwise lost during braking, or by connecting the vehicle to an electric supply source at home, work or at a public charging station.

For short journeys, a PHV would rely more on electric power, offering significant reductions in CO2 emissions through reduced consumption of fossil fuels.

For longer distances, it would switch to a combined electric/gasoline mode.

EDF and Toyota have also developed what they describe as an innovative charging and invoicing system, equipped in each of the test vehicles.

This system is compatible with a new generation of public charging stations, which aim to make electric power more accessible on public roads and car parks and to reduce the cost to the customer.

Mr Pierre Gadonneix, President and CEO of EDF said: "I am delighted by this partnership between EDF and Toyota on a new generation of vehicles. This innovation is a promising move towards acceptance of electricity as a competitive and ecologically-viable source of energy for European motorists. It strives to reconcile the challenges of individual mobility, economic growth and environmental impacts".

"This new collaboration marks an important milestone in advancing global capability in the area of alternative fuel sources for transport, which we believe are critical to society's future," said Mr. Masatami.

Takimoto, Executive Vice-President of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). "We are proud to partner such a leading European energy supplier as EDF, with whom we share a common vision towards sustainable mobility."

The EDF Group, one of the leaders in the energy market in Europe, is an energy specialist that is active in all the businesses of electricity: production, transport, distribution, energy supply and trading. The group is the leading electricity producer in Europe.

EDF is listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.