University College Dublin & Toyota

Consultancy - UCD & Toyota Ireland


Lead Researcher(s):

Professor Robert Shorten, Associate Professor David Timoney, Associate Professor Francesco Pilla, Assistant Professor Giovanni Russo


Toyota Ireland was established in 1972, and currently employs 1,200 people in Ireland. Its mission is a better life for everyone, and it believes in technology as a way of improving lives and bettering society. Toyota is a leading voice and strong advocate for sustainable mobility having first launched a hybrid model in 1997. Toyota Ireland actively fosters an environment of innovation and believes in collaboration as a way of achieving its mission. The company has a longstanding relationship with UCD researchers.

In 2018, Toyota Ireland required a neutral and objective assessment of the energy behaviour of the Toyota Prius Hybrid vehicles.  Based on a long history of collaboration with UCD, Toyota Ireland commissioned UCD researchers in the UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and the UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy  to investigate the energy behaviour of the new Toyota Prius IV hybrid vehicle, under a set of conditions representative of regular Irish commuting patterns.

This consultancy project, which commenced in October 2018, consisted of recording and analysing commuting data from seven volunteers, all of whom were employees of UCD. Each volunteer was supplied with a Toyota Prius IV Hybrid vehicle for one calendar week. The overall study data was based on a total of 157 individual trips covering a total of 2,018 km. Toyota Ireland was interested in studying the length of time the Prius was in zero emissions mode (ZEV). ZEV describes the time the internal combustion engine is not running and therefore emitting no pollutants.

The study revealed that the Toyota Prius was in ZEV for 60% of journeys resulting in reduced CO2 emissions and improved fuel economy. Toyota Ireland is using the study results to influence Irish Government policy and consumer decision making.

They are doing so by demonstrating that hybrids have a significant role to play in decarbonising the Irish car fleet, contributing to meeting EU directives on reducing C02 emissions, supporting the Government policy to lower VAT and car tax on hybrid-electric vehicles and increase tax on nitrogen oxide emissions as seen in Budget 2020.

The project allowed the UCD researchers apply their knowledge to a real-world issue and has served to enhance UCD’s reputation in green technology research and its impact on climate change and sustainable development.

ConsultUCD provided guidance on how best to engage with an external organisation via consultancy.  This included providing assistance with drafting and negotiating the contract. ConsultUCD also provided support in relation to the financial transaction for the piece of work liaising with Toyota Ireland purchasing department, receipting proceeds to UCD and distributing to support academics’ research activities. 

UCD and Toyota Ireland continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship and continue to seek opportunities to work together again in the future.