Jul 25, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Toyota's announcement confirms we can have plug-in hybrids now, with today's technology and today's infrastructure. We've been working for this moment since 2002. This milestone validates PHEVs as the best next step -- soon to become mass-produced and affordable.
Finally, hybrids green-tuned by CalCars.org and others will be joined by ones from the world's largest carmaker, with the resources to build better PHEVs than volunteer engineers!
The world's car industry is watching this momentous transition -- as is every advocate of solutions to global warming and oil addiction. Now plug-in advocates will work to get other carmakers into the race to get PHEVs on the road. CalCars.org, other advocates and government will roll out a green carpet for every company that wants to compete with Toyota.
[We'll be in meetings much of Wednesday and reachable best by email.]
Toyota will be first out of the starting gate with what we've suggested was the way to begin: with a Version 1.0 PHEV with "good enough" nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries.
Key points: the "Toyota Plug-in HV" will have an eight-mile all-electric cruising range, using "oversize' Ni-MH batteries. (Toyota has postponed introducing lithium-ion batteries for its next-generation Prius.) What it calls a "pilot program" of eight vehicles in the U.S. and Japan will begin to find out what customers want. Locations announced include the University of California at Irvine and Berkeley and unspecified locations in Japan.
ASSOCIATED PRESS & NY TIMES REPORTS FOLLOW
Toyota Develops Plug-In Hybrid Car
By YURI KAGEYAMA 07.25.07, 1:04 AM ET
Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it has developed a plug-in hybrid vehicle for public road tests in Japan and plans tests for the U.S. and Europe.
Other major automakers, including General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. of the U.S., are developing plug-in hybrids, a key technology that reduces the gases causing global warming.
Plug-in hybrids, including Toyota's, generally have batteries that power an electric motor, with an internal combustion engine for use when the batteries run low. The batteries can be recharged by plugging them into a standard wall outlet.
The plug-ins run longer on electricity, especially for shorter distances, than the more common hybrids on the roads such as Toyota's Prius.
Toyota is the first manufacturer to receive government approval to conduct tests for a plug-in hybrid on Japanese public roads, it said, and will collect information about the tests from eight plug-in vehicles for the government about emissions and fuel efficiency.
The Toyota executive in charge of technology, Masatami Takimoto, said the approval came Wednesday morning.
Takimoto declined to say when Toyota will bring a plug-in hybrid to market. Innovation in battery technology is needed, he said.
"We still need some time," he said.
The vehicle, called Toyota Plug-in HV, displayed Wednesday runs on the same nickel metal hydride battery as the Prius and has a cruising range of 13 kilometers (8 miles) on electricity. Takimoto said tests will help in deciding the range consumers want.
Mass production of plug-ins is so far being held back by costs and battery technology that limit the vehicles' range. Manufacturers are racing to bring the technology to market as consumers seek alternatives to traditional engines and high gasoline prices.
Although most automakers are working on hybrids, Toyota has the advantage of 10 years of experience in selling the technology. And it has 10 years of feedback from drivers on which to base improvements, rather than relying on information from labs.
Toyota has placed a large emphasis on hybrid technology: It offers several hybrid models besides the Prius, including the hybrid Camry and hybrid Lexus models. It has set a target of selling a million hybrids a year somtime after 2010.
The more common hybrids such as the Prius switch between an electric motor and gas engine to deliver better mileage. They don't need to be plugged in to recharge because they recharge the motor as they run, converting energy from the wheels and braking.
Toyota said in June its cumulative sales of hybrids passed 1 million vehicles, a landmark for the automaker. Toyota started selling the Prius a decade ago and now dominates the hybrid market.
Details of its plug-in hybrid tests for the U.S. and Europe are still undecided, Takimoto said.
General Motors is developing the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, and says it hopes its plug-ins can reach showrooms by 2010.
Earlier this month, Ford announced a partnership with Southern California Edison (amex: SCE.PR.B - news - people ) to test rechargeable hybrid vehicles and hasten mass production of plug-in hybrids. Ford has been testing plug-in hybrids based on the Escape sport-utility vehicle, for one, but has not said when it plans to start mass producing them.
Toyota to Test Plug-In Hybrid, Rivaling G.M.
By MICHELINE MAYNARD
The New York Times July 25, 2007
DETROIT, July 24 — Toyota Motor Company said Tuesday that it was testing hybrid vehicles with rechargeable batteries in the United States and Japan, setting up a direct challenge with General Motors to develop the industry's first plug-in hybrids.
Toyota's announcement is its first formal confirmation that it is ready to test plug-in hybrid vehicles, which environmentalists say may prove to be cleaner and more fuel-efficient than current hybrids.
In recent months, Toyota executives have said the company had plug-in hybrids under development, but would not give more details.
Toyota already is the world's biggest producer of conventional hybrid-electric vehicles, which run off a gasoline motor and a battery. Indeed, for years, executives had played down the prospects for plug-in hybrids, saying consumers preferred the convenience of vehicles that did not need to be recharged.
It has sold more than 1 million hybrid vehicles worldwide, including 750,000 Prius cars, since the Prius went on sale in Japan in 1998. Prius became available in the United States, its largest market, in the year 2000.
Industry experts say plug-in hybrid vehicles, known as PHEVs, may provide a longer battery life and prove more environmentally friendly than current hybrids.
Toyota said it would provide prototype versions of plug-in hybrid vehicles to researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of California, Berkeley. It also said that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Japan had approved the testing of plug-in hybrid vehicles on public roads in Japan.
Toyota is the only Japanese auto company thus far that has requested permission to test plug-in hybrids in Japan.
"The Toyota Prius convinced mainstream consumers on the merits of hybrids," J. Davis Illingworth, a senior vice president with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said in a statement. "Although there is much work to be done with plug-ins, we see this pilot program as a significant step in the advancement of the technology."
The prototype plug-in hybrids will be powered by two oversize packs of nickel-metal hydride batteries that are meant to simulate the kind of power Toyota expects future versions of the batteries to yield. The packs are capable of storing significantly more energy than the kind of battery found on the Prius, Toyota said.