College staff to test-drive hybrid car

STAFF at University College Cork will be test-driving Toyota’s new hybrid electric car this week before it hits production lines next year.

Members of staff will have the use of the hybrid for a four-month trial phase and will report back to the company on its performance.

The tests form part of an international conference examining energy efficient forms of transport at UCC.

ESB will be showcasing the latest offerings in electric vehicles from Mitsubishi, the iMiev and its Japanese rival, the Nissan Leaf.

Compressed natural gas alternatives for future freight transport will be on display in the form of a Mercedes Benz sprinter van.

The vehicles will be on display for the conference opening today, while staff members plan to test the Toyota hybrid over short, medium and long journeys to rate its performance.

Conference organiser Dr Aoife Foley of the School of Engineering, UCC, said driver profiles among staff at the college will give a good indication of the car’s capabilities.

“We are taking delivery of a demonstration model to see how it copes in different situations. We have a wide range of driver profiles here with staff coming in from different areas allowing us to test the car in short commuter runs to longer journeys,” she said.

The hybrid car runs on a petrol engine and a battery giving motorists the option to fuel up for longer journeys.

“It’s exciting to see how it will perform, the petrol engine element removes a lot of the anxiety about using the car over longer distances.”

Some 200 delegates are expected to attend the three day Irish Transport Research Network conference&.

Keynote speakers will focus on the viability of alternative fuel vehicles and energy efficiency in transport. Sessions have been dedicated to discuss cycling as a growing alternative form of transport and 80 specialist papers on topics related to energy saving transport will be revealed.

The programme features a panel discussion at the gala dinner, entitled, Transportation technology and the road to improved energy efficiency and emissions reduction.

Panellists include Ralph Griewing, head of electromobility, Siemens worldwide, Marvin Cooke, Toyota, Declan Colley, Irish Examiner, Mary Reidy, IEEE chair of electromobility standardisation and David Twohig, R&D Renault France. The panel will be chaired by former UCC president, Gerard Wrixon.

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