Denver, Colorado – Toyota has become the first automaker to join a charging infrastructure project in Colorado and will contribute ten Prius plug-in hybrid vehicles next March.

Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity project in Boulder, Colorado is an interdisciplinary research project coordinated by the University of Colorado at Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a joint venture of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the university.

The SmartGridCity project is the first fully-functioning, smart grid-enabled city in the world. Its goal is to provide increased grid reliability and energy use information, and will allow participating customers to remotely control in-home energy management devices.

RASEI, Xcel Energy and Toyota will gather data on vehicle performance and charging patterns, consumer behaviour and preferences, and electric utility and customer interactions. The locale also offers the benefit of monitoring high altitude, cold climate performance of Toyota’s first-generation lithium-ion battery.

The ten vehicles participating in the project are part of a 150-vehicle demonstration fleet that will arrive in the U.S. in early 2010.

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