With its selection as the only testing site in D.C. for Toyota’s first-generation Prius Plug-in Hybrid vehicles, the university will now offer faculty members a spin in one of the two eco-friendly cars.

The vehicles, which use a combination of electric and hybrid technologies, will be on loan to the university for at least a year, with the possibility that Toyota may extend the program for a second year.

Beginning in October, faculty members will be able to apply to test-drive the PHVs for three-month intervals. Drivers will be allowed to park in two newly installed electronic car-charging stations in the garage beneath the LEED-certified Rafik B. Hariri Building.

The testing is part of an international research initiative by Toyota and ZEV Technologies, Inc. and will be managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Project. Dashboard data will be streamed directly to the program website so that consumers can track the vehicles’ performance.

The university is the first testing location in the Washington, D.C. area, having been chosen over other organizations, including the Washington Nationals. Toyota has distributed 600 PHVs worldwide.

According to Audrey Stewart of the Office of Sustainability, the test-driving will also aid the university as it tackles its renewable energies agenda.

“By participating in this program, Georgetown will better understand what types of policies and infrastructure we will need in order to support the emerging use of cleaner cars by our faculty, staff, visitors and our fleet, ” she said in an interview.

Karen Frank, vice president for university facilities and student housing, said in a press release that the Prius PHVs are both easy to charge and to drive. The vehicles operate on electric power for the first 13 miles of driving at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour before converting to standard Prius hybrid technology.

“Essentially, the car can be charged in any three-prong 110V outlet. The vehicles charge in about three hours from a 110V outlet, and about 1.5 hours in a 220V outlet,” Stewart said.

The key element of the Prius PHV is the use of the high-output lithium ion battery, which is best known for its use in powering cell phones. Toyota claims that the battery “ensures strong, seamless acceleration up to highway speeds of more than 60 [miles per hour] on electric-only power.”

Students responded to the new program favorably, though some were surprised at how few miles the car will operate on electricity.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Victoria Ngare (SFS ’12) said. “If this is the best technology out there, then I am glad Georgetown is embracing it.”

“Still,” she added, “I’m actually kind of stunned at how inefficient the car sounds. Thirteen miles on electricity really isn’t that much.”

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