Study reveals Toyota hybrids are fuel efficient with positive environmental impact

A new study carried out by University College Dublin academics has revealed that in typical Irish commuting conditions, Toyota’s hybrid powertrain system drives in zero emissions mode (ZEV ) for significantly more than half (62 per cent ) of the time and more than 40 per cent of the distance covered.

Those were the key findings of a study commissioned by Toyota Ireland through ConsultUCD, the university’s managed consultancy service.

Zero emissions mode describes the time the internal combustion engine is not running and the vehicle is therefore emitting no pollutants. The longer the car is in ZEV mode the more significant the air quality benefits for other road users.

The study tracked seven drivers who commuted to UCD, Belfield, from Drogheda, Wicklow, Aughrim, Smithfield, Blackrock and Dundrum (2 ), over a full week each during last November, combined with normal additional family driving. Conclusions are based on the analysis of the more than 2,000 kilometres of driving across motorways, rural roads and city driving that resulted.

The routes reflected typical Irish commuting conditions. The researchers measured the time the cars spent in zero emissions mode versus internal combustion mode. No restrictions or driving guidelines were given to the drivers.

UCD’s Professor David Timoney said: “We were delighted to carry out this study to investigate the energy behaviour of Toyota’s hybrid powertrain system across typical commuting conditions in Ireland. Highlights of the study include a high percentage of zero emissions driving recorded across a wide range of conditions, which may provide environmental benefits for the wider population. Also noteworthy is the close agreement of the measured fuel economy with the official worldwide harmonised light vehicle test procedure figure.”

Commenting on the study, Toyota corporate affairs director Mark Teevan said the UCD study confirmed Toyota Prius hybrids spent the majority of their time in zero emissions mode and provided vital learnings for Ireland as the country set about decarbonising the Irish car fleet.

“This is the first study of this type carried out in Ireland, and we anticipate its results would be replicated across the country and also across the range of newly launched Toyota hybrid models," he said.

"It conclusively shows that our self-charging hybrids are in zero emissions mode for well over half of their journeys, including on long drives. It underlines the fuel economy and positive environmental impact that self-charging hybrids can bring to society with reduced C02 and improved air quality, which, in turn, can deliver significant health benefits for cyclists and pedestrians travelling the same routes.

“Self-charging hybrids have a significant role to play in decarbonising the car fleet and in delivering electrified driving to the Irish consumer. It’s clear that hybrids deliver societal benefits for both rural and urban drivers. These cars do not need additional infrastructure or behavioural change from drivers. In a country with more than two million cars with combustion engines, there are clear and tangible benefits from self-charging hybrids that drive 60per cent of the time in zero emissions mode.”

The study entitled Energy Behaviour of Toyota Prius Hybrid Vehicles in Sample Irish Commuting Conditions was authored by Professors Robert Shorten and Giovanni Russo, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Professor Franceso Pilla, UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Planning and Professor David Timoney, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

The full report can be viewed at


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