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Toyota Plug-In Hybrid Wins Green Rally

The Toyota Plug-in Hybrid has won the Canadian Rallye Vert de Montréal again. Is Toyota getting serious about racing its plug-in hybrids?

Toyota is racing its plug-in hybrids, PHEV and the Prius PHEV just won the Rallye Vert de Montréal for the third year in a row. Now most of us expect green rallies to be won by Tesla or souped up version of the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi’s i MiEV but this Toyota Prius PHEV won the Alternative Energies Cup tour.

Toyota Green Racing. Toyota is big in the racing scene with its Indy cars and other sports prototype but all use its gasoline technology, even if it is bringing out hybrids in endurance race. Still, we don’t automatically think of its Prius as a racing candidate. Even if a some of us have seen a few Prii impress us on highways zipping in and out of lanes, the car is not necessarily known for its stellar handling. All things to the contrary, the PHEV did place first in fuel consumption having sipped only 50.1 gallons of fuel on the 329.32 miles of race. This gave the racing Prius PHEV an average fuel efficiency of 65.33 MPG while racing.

Toyota is making due on its promise to concentrate on hybrids, as it has told us a few weeks ago, see our: “Toyota Scales Back Electric Car Roadmap” It makes sense for such a big car manufacturer to concentrate on what it does best and continue its number one position on the global market. After all, Toyota has nothing to prove and everything to lose if it went out after a new alternative energy propulsion system. This can be left to other carmakers eager to make a dent in the lion’s share of the market.

Alternative Energies Cup. And just what is the Alternative Energies Cup? The Rallye International Vert de Montréal is part of nine global events sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'automobile, FIA and its Alternative Energies Cup tour. The three-day green rally event races over 372 miles. The rally is aimed to challenge racing alternative energy cars using alternative energy and, or other fuel sources. As such gasoline, electricity, propane, biofuel and diesel races for efficiency.

Who Was Second Best? None other than the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid’s close cousin achieved second place, the Lexus CT 200h. The Lexus achieved pretty respectable numbers with 54.7 MPG. The key elements as was reported in HybridCars was a combination of an average of fuel consumption and regularity, something both vehicles placed first in.

In fact according to Stephen Beatty, Chief Environmental Officer of Toyota Canada Inc.: “The PHV has consistently demonstrated that its user-selectable EV mode for short trips and hybrid fuel efficiency for everything else is a winning combination. The key to victory for the PHV was its engine, which allows the driver to manually select between the EV and the hybrid mode seamlessly. The outstanding performance of the PHV and CT 200h in the Montreal rally was a compelling demonstration of the depth and breadth of Toyota’s leadership in green engineering.”

So what’s next for Toyota Canada? The Rallye Monte Carlo in its Energies Nouvelles, New Energies version next March. If the Rallie de Monaco is one of the world’s oldest and most famous rally, this will be the first rally on the 2013 FIA Alternative Energies Cup calendar.

Is Toyota Doing The Right Thing? It’s hard to say yes or no. On a purely business basis, Toyota is doing the right thing concentrating on what it finally makes money on now, it’s hybrid platform. Although many, yours truly included would like to see Toyota come back to a more aggressive stand showing other carmakers that alternative energy isn’t just hybrid power, it does show us that its hybrid platform, particularly its plug-in hybrid drivertain is a solid solution for the near future until battery technology matures further.

In the meantime congratulations Toyota Canada and good luck in the Rallye de Monte Carlo des Energies Nouvelles with your Prius plug-in hybrid.