For more recent news, see the CalCars News Archive.
If you ask, "have major auto-makers come around on PHEVs?", today's answer is "Yes
-- but not yet."
GM has announced plans for public sales in 2010, and almost every carmaker now says it will sell PHEVs or highway-speed battery electric vehicles (BEVs) sometime between 2010-2013. In late 2008, BYD started selling the first production PHEV in China.
We've kept the summary table below generally up-to-date for passenger PHEVs, but not for all-electric vehicles (BEVs), motorcycles or larger vehicles like buses and trucks. For those vehicles (as well as PHEVs) see the invaluable "Plug-In Vehicle Tracker", maintained by Plug In America. (Find recent important developments at the CalCars-News Archive,) Below our summary you'll find a brief explanation of how carmakers' views evolved over time, plus our priceless collection of automakers' comments starting in 2005-2007 (which we stopped updating in early 2008 as the frequency of statements became to great to track).
This slide is from a recent presentation about PHEVs. Slide last modified September 2010; summary table last modified October 15, 2009.
|Description and summary of official statements
|Status of production
|Prototype of lithium battery + supercapacitor combination for licensing by carmakers
|With Ricardo, two prototype conversions of Saturn Vue hybrid to XH-150 PHEV-40s
|Futuristic lightweight $30,000 3-wheel vehicles in development
|Taking deposits in CA on series-PHEV 2010 version to follow electric version in 2009.
|Volkswagen-owned company exploring PHEVs
|Metroproject Quattro Sub-compact PHEV Concept Car shown October 2007; PHEV of A1 Sportback under consideration
|For-profit spin off from Rocky Mountain Institute designing lightweight PHEVs, successor to RMI's 1990s "Hypercar" concept. Partnering with Alcoa, Duke Energy, Google.org, Johnson Controls
|Indiana startup plans mass production in 2012.
|BYD Automobile Company, Shenzhen, China (partially owned by Warren Buffet's Mid-America Holdings), partnering with Volkswagen.
|Plan F3DM $22,000 PHEV with 60-mile range for sale, now selling in China, in the US and Europe around 2011
|ENVI division developing Town & Country minivan, 200C EV concept and Jeep Patriot and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited SUVs, EREVs (series hybrids) with 40-mile range
|One PHEV planned for sale in US by end of 2010, others by 2013.
|Took over Daimler/Chrysler Sprinter PHEV program. Showed BlueZERO E-CELL PLUS series PHEV concept in December '08.
|Several dozen prototypes on 15-passenger van since 2004; now in second generation development; no production plans.
|$80,000 Karma series luxury 50-mile range series PHEV, S Sunset convertible version. Partnering with Quantum Technologies.
|1,300 pre-orders for small production runs in late 2009 and 7,500 in 2010. Established 26-dealer network.
|Escape PHEV-40 around 2012. Small long-term evaluation program, including modeling of vehicle-to-grid building benefits and economics, begun with Southern California Edison, joined by EPRI, other utilities, US DOE. Batteries not ready. Has shown some concept fuel-cell PHEVs.
|First Escape PHEV delivered to SCE Nov 2007; 20 in 2008-2009. (Several after-market companies have done PHEV conversions of the Ford Escape hybrid and one has done a retrofit of the F-150 pickup -- see Where PHEVs Are and ICE-Conversions.) Shifted earlier focus to all-electric Focus in 2011 with Magna.
|Chevy Volt series PHEV, which it calls "extended range electric vehicle" (EREV), part of "E-Flex" multi-fuel platform. Plans Cadillac Converj, Opel Ampera, other versions. Planned Saturn Vue PHEV-10 may become GM or Buick.
|Plans "large demonstration fleet" late 2009. Committed to sales of 10,000 or more vehicles in late 2010, with increasing production in 2011. See Chevy Volt for latest. Aims to get PHEV SUV on road in 2011; no production goal.
|Sees PHEVs as having "unnecessary fuel engine and fuel tank;" promises all-electrics "assuming we can come up with a really high-performing battery that we are working on currently." Doubts PHEVs have environmental benefits.
|No known plug-ins being planned or on the road. Continues promotion and development of hydrogen as long-term strategy.
|Aims to be leader in fuel economy and alternative fuels Plans PHEV based on Blue-Will 38-mile range concept vehicle for sale in U.S. in 2012
|Hybrid Sonata model year 2011, possible PHEV version in 2013.
|Tata-owned company reported to be developing series PHEVs.
|Based on SJ sedan and perhaps the SE roadster, expected 2011.
|Ford Partner was reported to be developing Series PHEV based on Mazda 5 MPV platform.
|No announced plans. Company says it's focusing on gasoline and hydrogen.
|Introduces PX-MIeV four-wheel drive vehicle at Tokyo Auto Show, October 2009
|Concept vehicle, no announced production plans
|Includes PHEVs in its long-term development program.
|Focusing on all-electric, Nissan-Renault partnership with Better Place for EVs.
|Persu Mobility (formerly VentureOne)
|3-wheel Persu Hybrid PHEV-20 in development.
|Expected deposits in 2009 and first sales in CA in 2010.
|GM-owned company exploring PHEVs
|Joint Venture with Volvo and others to research PHEVs
|Introduces Swift subcompact crossover series PHEV at Tokyo Auto Show, October 2009
|Concept vehicle, no announced production plans
|500 PHEV 2010-model Priuses with lithium batteries to be leased for fleet tests in 2009 (150 in U.S.). Commits to sell PHEVs in 2012. Agrees on environmental and economic benefits, though some presentations backtrack on that; says batteries need further development before commitment to mass-production. Says demand and whether people will plug in remain to be proven.
|Mass-produced 2010 "third-generation" Prius, originally planned for 2009, still uses NiMH batteries. (Several aftermarket companies and organizations have converted hundreds of Priuses -- see Where PHEVs Are.)
|Team w/Malcolm Bricklin (who brought the Subaru and the Yugo to America) aims for luxury PHEV.
|Raising money to bring a PHEV to market.
|CEO says "Future belongs to electric cars," has gained German government support for development. Expects production around 2014.
|Space Up! Blue Concept PHEV Van with diesel or hydrogen fuel cells and rooftop photovoltaic. Plans for put 20 "Twin Drive" PHEV-30 prototypes on Golf platform in 2010. Partnership with BYD could accelerate PHEV plans.
|Ford-owned company has developed "ReCharge" concept vehicles with wheel motors. V70 parallel diesel hybrid prototypes
|Working with Vattenfall utility for demonstration project using Ener1 batteries; aims for 2012 commercial launch.
As you can see in the collection of media reports that follow, early automaker comments on PHEVs were often contradictory. They evolved as awareness expanded and interest grew, and as OEMs got more pointed questions from journalists and customers -- increasingly joined by CEOs, elected officials. The objections they raised for years -- "no one is interested, no one would plug in, the technology is too complex, the benefits are minimal, it's just shifting the pollution from the tailpipe to the smokestack, there's no demand for these cars" -- still show up occasionally, but are by and large history.
One remaining objection which explains why carmakers are still dragging their feet is "they are not yet viable." Carmakers' response to real and specific concerns about battery lifetime, up-front costs, and safety issues is to focus on engineering and testing for an unspecified number of years. Of course, the "business case" improves steadily as technology improves and as local and federal governments around the world offer up to $10,000/vehicle incentives for millions of PHEVs. We and the coalition of PHEV advocates are working to find ways to address all these issues so that the world’s large automakers can get started now, putting demonstration fleets of "good-enough" PHEVs in the hands of eager fleet and early adopter customers, with better production PHEVs arriving as batteries steadily or rapidly improve. See our frequent comments at our news archive.
Beginning in 2005, we excerpted individual statements of intentions by carmakers, but by the start of 2008, the number of comments became too numerous for us to track. Journalists, historians and others interested in seeing how companies responded to a sustained and successful grass-roots campaign can see the progression below.
The table and this introduction are also available in multiple foreign languages which often have a translation "lag time" (follow links at bottom of home page).
Press quotations last modified: March 16, 2008
|According to [CEO Edward W.] Furia, the next step for AFS Trinity is to license its breakthrough technology to carmakers who want to incorporate the XHT drive train into their vehicles. "That would be our preference," said Furia. "However," he continued, "If carmakers decide not to take advantage of this offer, AFS Trinity intends to raise the funds to begin modifying existing hybrids or manufacture its own 150 mpg SUV's and, eventually, 250 mpg sedans. We believe such production models could be available for sale in three years."Furia explained, "The SUVs that we just completed that were outfitted with the XHT drive train could have been any SUV made by anyone. The XHT is a new generation of plug-in hybrid drive train ready to multiply the gas mileage of any SUV or any standard sedan." (Company PressRelease)
|BYD Auto Co., which hopes to sell cars here in three to five years, used the Detroit Auto Show to display a prototype sedan it says can run 60 miles on batteries developed in-house and another 190 miles on a gas/electric system. BYD said the F6DM (dual mode) sedan will go on sale in China in the fourth quarter for $20,000 to $30,000....The F6 DM uses ferrous batteries, with no lithium content, that BYD says are high-energy density and low cost. BYD also developed the motors and software for the system. (Chicago Tribune)
|[DaimlerChrysler Group research chief Thomas Weber] played down the importance for passenger cars of plug-in hybrid technology that is getting lots of attention in the U.S. market. DaimlerChrysler has presented plug-in hybrids in commercial vans that have enough room to store the batteries, but the technology is not quite ripe for cars..."Plug-in hybrids make little sense in a car with current battery technology," he said. But they may be relevant for use in certain areas, he added. (Reuters)
|[In response to GM's announcement at the LA Auto Show], Chrysler Group sales chief Joe Eberhardt, talking to a clutch of reporters later, said his company has no plans for a plug-in at this time. (USA Today)
|DaimlerChrysler is downright reluctant, even though it has built four test models, commercial-size vans that run on gasoline and electricity. One drawback, said Deborah Morrissett, vice president of regulatory affairs, is "you're still hauling around two powertrains," meaning extra weight and complexity. "It's not high on our list," she said. (New York Times)
|The opportunities and possibilities are huge," Mike Tamor, Ford Motor Co.'s top executive in hybrid and fuel cell vehicle research, said in an interview yesterday. "But it's going to be a very expensive proposition to really make all this happen." (Reuters)
|Ford Motor Co. announced a partnership with utility Southern California Edison to test a fleet of rechargeable electric vehicles and said it expected to sell such plug-in hybrids within the next decade if battery technology keeps pace. "Within five to 10 years we will start to see this technology in our hands," Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said at the event. When asked if that meant plug-in hybrids would be available on showroom floors, Mulally said yes...."We will know a lot more in the next few years." (Newsday)
|Southern California Edison will team up to test rechargeable hybrid vehicles in an effort to speed up mass production of the new technology. The utility...will get a Ford plug-in hybrid vehicle by the end of this year and as many as 20 by some time in 2009 to test their durability, range and impact on the power grid, said Susan M. Cischke, Ford senior vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering. "By partnering with these two industries ... we're hoping that it does accelerate the commercialization and certainly drive some of the cost issues down." (Associated Press)
|Ford and Edison intend to undertake a multi-million dollar, multi-year PHEV evaluation and demonstration program....Ford and Edison intend to explore many of the potential benefits of widespread PHEV use, which include enhanced energy security, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lower fuel costs and more cost-effective use of the nation's electricity grid. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technologies are not yet competitive due primarily to the high cost of advanced batteries. Ford and SCE will explore whether these batteries have other uses that could reduce their cost to consumers. (Joint Press Release)
|Ford Motor Co. is working to develop a plug-in hybrid vehicle, product chief Derrick Kuzak said on Wednesday. "The battery technology is one of the biggest challenges," Kuzak said. "There is also the problem of infrastructure. When people start driving electric cars, where will the electricity come from? That has to be looked at." (Reuters)
|"Batteries are not yet an economic or efficient way of storing power...we still need to achieve considerably better battery performance before plug-ins become a truly viable proposition. We'll certainly be careful not to announce anything that we cannot deliver." (Ford Executive Vice President Lewis Booth, at auto industry conference in Amsterdam)
|Demonstrating its Flexible Series Hybrid Edge with 25- mile all-electric range, Ford's VP Gerhard Schmidt said, "We could take the fuel cell power system out and replace it with a downsized diesel, gasoline engine or any other powertrain connected to a small electric generator to make electricity like the fuel cell does now." We hope Ford will, and then move ahead! (Associated Press)
|Nancy Gioia [Ford's Director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Vehicle Programs] said the automaker is considering adding plug-in products."The biggest barrier is the battery..." GM's program relies on lithium-ion battery technology that Gioia called "cost, weight and package prohibitive...." "People will likely not buy plug-ins without big federal tax breaks." (Reuters)
|[In response to GM's announcement at the LA Auto Show], Ford Group marketing manager Cisco Codina said the answer for now is full hybrids, like the latest version of its Ford Escape hybrid SUV unveiled at the show. (USA Today)
|Ford would not sell a plug-in hybrid unless it could guarantee that the battery would last as long as current hybrid batteries do, said [Mike Tamor, executive for hybrid and fuel cell research at Ford]. He's confident that challenge can be met, though. (CNN)
|"Technology is developing so rapidly," [Ford CEO Bill Ford] says, "that hybrids may not be the way to go, even though Toyota, the acknowledged leader in hybrid development, plans to have one million hybrids on the road by the end of the decade." (New York Times)
|"A lot more development is needed to make (PHEV technology) commercially viable." (Ford spokesman in Ward's Auto)
|"So, Mr. Ford is saying we’re looking into it. A lot of people are very much interested in (PHEV technology), and we have to confirm that it is the way to go. Everything is on the table."(Ford VP of Environmental and Safety Engineering Sue Cischke in Ward's Auto)
|"We have nothing to announce today, but yes we are very keenly looking at (plug-in hybrids), and working with that technology. But we have nothing to announce in terms of any kind of market place." (Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford at 2006 Shareholders Meeting)
|[GM Vice Chairman Bob] Lutz, 75, is undergoing a green conversion in the twilight of his career. "I believe strongly that this country has to get off oil," he says, sitting beside a massive V-16 engine on display in his office. "The electrification of the automobile is inevitable...." When Lutz first proposed creating an electric car in 2003, the idea "bombed" inside GM, he says. "I got beaten down a number of times." The turning point came when tiny Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley start-up, announced in 2006 that it would produce a speedy electric sports car powered by those same laptop batteries. "That tore it for me," says Lutz. "If some Silicon Valley start-up can solve this equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it's unfeasible...." "We saw Toyota getting highly beneficial rub-off from their Prius success, which permitted them to cloak themselves in the mantle of total greenness," says Lutz. "This was starting to hurt because it was one reason for a sudden surge in Toyota's market share...." Now Lutz envisions selling hundreds of thousands of Volts a year, probably priced below $30,000. Detroit's horsepower jockey insists the Volt will be his crowning achievement--and his swan song. "This is like JFK's call for the moon shot," he says. "I want to stick around to see the Volt come to market. Then I'll pack it in around 80." And ride off into the sunset on electric power. (Newsweek).
|[General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob] Lutz said he continues to be increasingly confident that GM will bring the range-extended Chevrolet Volt to market by 2010... "We got our first experimental battery pack today" from LG Chem, Lutz said. The battery pack doesn't yet have a cooling system, he said, but doesn't need one for the stage of testing GM and LG Chem are in. GM expects to receive an experimental battery pack in December from A123Systems, the other battery supplier with which it has a contract, Lutz said.... By the first quarter, GM expects to be running the E-Flex operating system in late model Malibus for testing purposes, he said.... Lutz said the company has not determined how many Volts it will make in the first year, but said he believes "it's a very safe bet that it will be produced in the tens of thousands" in its first generation. "This is not sanctioned, not an official GM number, but in the first full year of production I would like to see between 60,000 and 100,000 and then go up from there," Lutz said.... "We're charging full-speed ahead before we know exactly what the investment is going to be, before we know whether we can make any money off it or not, before we know how many we're going to sell," Lutz said. "This is unusual. This is different from anything I've ever seen in my 40 years in the automobile industry." (Detroit Free Press).
|FRANKFURT, Germany -- General Motors will begin testing the revolutionary electric drive system in the Chevrolet Volt concept car on the road in vehicles next spring, company Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said. GM is committed to putting the system in the Chevrolet Volt for sale by 2010, Lutz said... (Detroit Free Press).
|GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told AutoObserver at the show both A123Systems and LG Chem -- battery makers with development contracts with GM but that use different chemistries in their batteries -- are "absolutely confident" they can meet GM's requirements for the Volt's battery. GM insists the battery provide 40 miles of pure electric power, charge and recharge 4,000 times, have a 10-year life and is ready for GM's plan to have the Volt on the road by year-end 2010. "Everybody feels good about meeting the specifications," Lutz said. "There's none of this 'we hope we can make it'."... "It could be we select one supplier over the other because of vastly superior technology of one. But I think the way it is going, we may use both suppliers." (AutoObserver.com).
|Nick Reilly, the President of General Motors Asia Pacific, said that GM is looking at leasing batteries for the Volt to customers, rather than asking them to pay a prohibitive price for the new technology. "People won't buy a full car. They will buy a car and rent or lease the battery and the cost of leasing the battery will be the same as, or less than, the cost they're paying today for petrol.... "Before we were saying it will be an awfully long time before we can get the costs down so people can afford it, but actually if you offset the fuel costs, people can afford it." (Green Car Congress).
(Multiple reports on speech and press conference by GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz)
|Lutz said his goal is
for GM to develop a plug in hybrid on sale by 2010.... “It very definitely opens
a window of opportunity for us,” Lutz said of Toyota’s potential delay.
Lutz said GM is pushing to have Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid on the road by 2009. --
"I think that our No. 1 competitor has some problems with their technology, and I do think that it very definitely opens a window of opportunity for us to be first to market with a genuine plug-in hybrid." ...Lutz said that despite the setback Toyota is not out of the race. "Never discount Toyota. They're extremely smart people," he said. -- (Forbes).
GM's global product chief Bob Lutz said he expects to have next-generation lithium-ion battery packs ready for the vehicles by October this year...."We'll have some on the road for testing next spring, and we should have the Volt in production by the end of 2010." "The cost of the battery would likely be high even at the time of production," Lutz said, adding that GM is exploring options that would allow consumers to lease the battery when buying the vehicle in order to bring down the sticker price. -- (Reuters).
"The big thing is how fast they can bring the battery cost down," he said. "The target is to come in at the price of a midmarket car. The average new vehicle costs around $28,000, and most midsize cars are in the $20,000 to $25,000 range." -- (Chicago Tribune).
|General Motors Corp. is reassigning 500 engineers to speed up the creation of the Chevrolet Volt. "We have our A Team on this," [says Larry Burns, vice president of R&D]. GM's initial goal of selling 1,000 Volts by the end of the decade hinges on developing a reliable, long-lasting battery. If that target is met, the largest U.S. automaker expects to sell 1 million within five years to make the model profitable. (Bloomberg News).
|GM spokesman Jeff Holland said Friday that its Saturn Vue sport-utility vehicle will be available as a plug-in by the end of 2009. (San Jose Mercury News).
|Some cynics accused us of pulling a PR stunt, saying the Volt is simply an attempt by GM to "greenwash" the public and would never be a real vehicle. The truth is just the opposite ... By the end of this year, we will begin testing the lithium-ion batteries developed in prototypes of the Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid. In the same timeframe, we also expect to have our first demonstration vehicles that use E-Flex. (Vice Chairman Bob Lutz in GM's FastLane blog).
|GM is aggressively pursuing plug-in hybrids "because of the tremendous potential to significantly increase fuel economy," according to spokesman Brian Corbett. He said GM is developing plug-in hybrids now so "when the advanced batteries are ready for production, our plug-in vehicles should be ready, too -- which means we'll be ahead of the curve." (Wired News).
|[Bob Boniface, GM's director of advanced design] is unable to name a date, but that GM will be the first to market with a plug-in hybrid. (Red Herring).
|GM Vice Chairman Robert A. Lutz: "The Chevrolet Volt is a new type of electric vehicle....If you lived within 30 miles from work (60 miles round trip) and charged your vehicle every night when you came home or during the day at work, you would get 150 miles per gallon," Lutz said. "More than half of all Americans live within 20 miles of where they work (40 miles round trip). In that case, you might never burn a drop of gas during the life of the car." ... Some experts predict that such a battery - or a similar battery - could be production-ready by 2010 to 2012....Larry Burns, GM vice president for research and development and strategic planning: "Whether your concern is energy security, global climate change, natural disasters, the high price of gas, the volatile pricing of a barrel of oil and the effect that unpredictability has on Wall Street - all of these issues point to a need for energy diversity. (GM Press Release).
|Denise Gray, GM's newly appointed director of hybrid energy storage systems: "We are fully committed to forging the necessary partnerships to produce battery solutions that will meet our aggressive vehicle program targets....Together, with our suppliers, we intend to address the issues relating to thermal management, storage capacity, recharge times, driving range and cost reduction....It's important to point out that these two agreements [Cobasys - A123Systems and the other from Johnson Controls - Saft] are by no means the only avenues we're pursuing." GM will evaluate the two test batteries in prototype Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrids beginning later this year. (GM Press Release).
|"As time goes on, we may look at even more electrification of the vehicle, including solutions that use fuel cells," says Peter Savagian, director of hybrid power-train systems at GM. "We're encouraged by the improvements in the technology represented by hybrid batteries today," Savagian says. "And we're encouraged that there are many companies pursuing different formulas for them. But we want to give them cause to continue to press forward." (MIT Technology Review).
|This story is similar to other reports from last week, with the addition of: In an interview on the sidelines of the show, Wagoner said he'd like GM to be the first to offer a plug-in hybrid, but it's more important to be first with a version that can be built on a high-volume platform. (Marketwatch).
|"GM has begun work on a Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid production vehicle," said Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO. "The technological hurdles are real, but we believe they are also surmountable. I can't give you a production date for our plug-in hybrid today. But I can tell you that this is a top priority program for GM, given the huge potential it offers for fuel-economy improvement." (GM).
|General Motors Corp. is likely to unveil a prototype plug-in hybrid at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit as part of its company-wide focus on "electrifying" the car, GM officials said Thursday. The advanced technology vehicle would have an extended driving range on battery power alone and would also have a diesel or gasoline engine that could power the car when the battery was low. Lutz did tell The Detroit News that GM estimates it will take three to four years "to convert from 'power' lithium batteries to 'energy storage' lithium cells," which would allow vehicles to travel farther distances. (Detroit News).
|"Tom Stephens (group vice president of GM Powertrain), Rick Wagoner and I believe in the ultimate electrification of the automobile," [GM Vice Chair] Lutz said in an interview with Automotive News. "We believe that's where it's going." Lutz said lithium-ion batteries must be improved to hold a bigger charge and deliver the charge gradually. Lutz believes there will be rapid battery development over the next three to four years that will provide more energy storage... But, he said, for GM, "what started as a fuel cell project is now an electric vehicle project." (Automotive News).
|General Motors Corp., losing sales to Toyota Motor Corp., will use some of the $9 billion in savings from cost cuts this year to make vehicles that match the Japanese automaker in technology and fuel efficiency, according to people familiar with the strategy.... The Detroit-based automaker has assigned a team of engineers to help develop plug-in hybrids, according to one of the people. The project -- known internally as I-car, for Icon car -- is meant to be the centerpiece of the new strategy, the people said....Wagoner and Vice Chairman Bob Lutz this month toured GM's hybrid development center in Troy, Michigan, for the first time to let researchers know the company is making such technologies a priority, according to people familiar with the visit. (Bloomberg).
|"...because, even E85, we wish that would roll out a lot faster -- but, the only infrastructure that's really in place, besides oil, is electricity distribution... if you really want to go for any alternative vehicle -- now that battery technology is so much better... let me put it this way: as a technology group, we are very interested in the plug-in hybrid technology." (Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman, Product Development, and Chairman, GM North America in GM's interviewed by Carlist.com).
|"We are also studying plug-in hybrids, and will have more to say about those soon." (Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman, Product Development, and Chairman, GM North America in GM's Fastlane Blog)
|But Micky Bly, engineering director of GM's hybrid programs, says the lithium-ion batteries required by the plug-ins drive up costs, making them difficult to market. (USA Today)
|"General Motors Corp., losing sales to fuel-efficient cars from Toyota Motor Corp., is developing a hybrid-electric vehicle with a battery that recharges at any outlet, said GM officials familiar with the plan." (Bloomberg News)
|The head of Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday he saw no value in developing plug-in hybrid vehicles. Honda president Takeo Fukui said he expects competition in conventional petrol-electric hybrids to shift into high gear in the coming year amid growing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. But Fukui said he saw no significant value in researching plug-in hybrid models, which can be recharged by connecting to a power plug. Such systems would require significant improvement in the capacity, weight, and size of batteries, motors, engines, and other components, he said. "I do not understand why people see value in plug-in (hybrids)," he said. "I cannot understand the rational for (developing) plug-ins." (Agence-France Press).
|Honda Motor Co. Chief Executive Takeo Fukui: "My feeling is that the kind of plug-in hybrid currently proposed by different auto makers can be best described as a battery electric vehicle equipped with an unnecessary fuel engine and fuel tank." He said he was referring to plug-in hybrids such as the Chevy Volt. " "Assuming that we can come up with a really high-performing battery that we are working on currently, I think a battery electric vehicle [that uses such battery technology] would actually be a plus from an environmental point of view." Honda could easily develop a plug-in hybrid within two years. "But I don't think that would contribute to the global environment, to reduce [global warming gas] emissions." (Wall Street Journal).
|Honda Motor Co is considering developing a plug-in electric hybrid vehicle to add to its lineup but battery technology remains a significant barrier to successful development. "We are studying what kind of conditions would enable a plug-in," Motoatsu Shiraishi, president of Honda Research and Development, told Reuters on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show here. Shiraishi said the two major challenges to introducing a hybrid is the current battery capacity, which has to improve significantly, and speed of recharging it. (Reuters).
|"Plugin hybrids have a lot of promise, especially to displace oil consumption. They need and deserve further research and development." (Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Energy of John German, Manager, Environmental and Energy Analyses, Product Regulator Office, American Honda Motor Company, Inc.)
|Hyundai Motor, Korea's largest automaker, said it is considering developing a plug-in hybrid car, a move expected to follow bigger rivals such as Japan's Toyota Motor and General Motors of the United States. Hyundai is studying ways to develop the next-generation hybrid car that can be recharged at home electric outlets, but no decision has been made yet, said a company official.... "We are just in the stage of studying the idea," the official said, denying a news report earlier in the day that claimed Hyundai has already started developing the plug-in hybrid car at its research and development center in Hwaseong, 70 kilometers south of Seoul. (Korea.net)
|On one side of the
debate are Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. Both have played down
all-electric cars in favor of developing competing forms of gasoline-electric hybrids,
though they disagree on the best technology and how quickly it can be implemented. On
the other side are two allied car makers, France's Renault SA and Japan's Nissan Motor
Co., as well as Honda Motor Co. The three have long expressed skepticism about the
economic wisdom of hybrids and now are talking up all-electric cars.
Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn and Honda President and CEO Takeo Fukui, in separate interviews Tuesday, argued that all-electric vehicles make more sense from environmental, political and economic points of view than hybrids, provided there are advances in making lithium-ion-battery technology safer and more reliable. (Wall Street Journal)
|Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., announced its new mid-term environmental action plan, Nissan Green Program 2010 (NGP 2010), including: Acceleration of HEV development with battery charging system utilizing grid power. (Newswire Canada)
|Nissan's hybrids will feature a lithium ion battery that could be recharged with a power plug, and the company expects to begin selling the first models in 2010, the report said. (AP / Yomiuri Shimbun)
|President Katsuaki Watanabe said Toyota plans to launch a plug-in hybrid model using a lithium-ion battery by 2010 at the latest. "I've told the engineers to accelerate this process [of developing lithium-ion technology] as much as possible," Mr. Watanabe said, noting that "the quality for mass production has to be ensured. This is key." ( Wall Street Journal)
|The handful in demonstration service now use nickel-metal hydride batteries and will shift to lithium as Toyota begins putting 400 plug-in Priuses into demonstration service worldwide beginning late next year or early 2010. (USA Today)
|By 2010, we will accelerate our global plug-in hybrid R&D program. As part of this plan, we will deliver a significant fleet of PHEVs powered by lithium-ion batteries to a wide variety of global commercial customers, with many coming to the U.S. To make that happen, we have already started the planning phase to expand our Panasonic joint-venture battery factory. The expansion will add an assembly line to build lithium batteries for automotive applications. (Speech by Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe)
|Toyota also said it was preparing to start mass producing lithium-ion batteries for low-emission vehicles. Lithium-ion batteries will not be used in the Prius, on sale for a decade and the most popular hybrid on the market, according to Toyota. The lithium-ion battery will be used in a plug-in hybrid. Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto, who oversees technology, said Toyota had developed the lithium-ion battery to a level that it is almost ready for mass production, although that won't start until sometime after next year. (Associated Press)
|Panasonic EV Energy Co., the battery-making joint venture between Toyota and Matsushita, has begun studies at its Omori factory geared to the mass production of lithium-ion batteries, said Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe in his end-of-year press conference. The Omori factory currently produces NiMH cells.... Watanabe referenced the ongoing testing of the plug-in hybrid prototypes in Japan and the US, saying that the company is making steady progress toward the commercialization of the plug-in vehicles. (Green Car Congress)
|PHEVs face questions from people like Toyota's [spokesman Bill] Kwong about how environmentally friendly they really are and whether utilities can handle the extra electricity demand. "It's still up in the air, that's why we're doing all this research. We need to know, is it viable? Does it make good business sense, and how does it affect the environment?" Kwong asked. "What are we really doing and how big of a carbon footprint are we going to leave with this?" Kwong said Toyota is concerned PHEVs might just replace gas problems with more coal emissions, since the cars will require more electricity from utilities. (North County Times)
|Toyota said that better batteries are needed to extend the car's electric-mode range -- and even the most promising prospects may not be good enough. "Some of our engineers think we must go beyond lithium-ion," said Katsuaki Watanabe, president of the Toyota Motor Corporation, referring to what is now the leading battery technology for electric vehicles. (New York Times)
|"...in China they make electricity by burning coal, so China is not the place for electric cars," [Tatehito Ueda, a managing officer at Toyota Motor Corp.] told the Nikkei International Automotive Conference in Tokyo... The problems of changing to a plug-in fleet are not all technical... Toyota is also concerned that plug-in owners might tire of connecting their cars every day. Some answers on consumer expectations and daily performance should come out of evaluations of the prototypes to be conducted at the Irvine and Berkeley campuses of the University of California that will begin later this month. The uncertainties mean Toyota officials simply won't be pinned down as to when a plug-in hybrid will hit the market. When pressed, all Mr. Asakura would say is: "As quickly as possible." (Reuters)
|"We have to expand the market for existing hybrid systems that we have now," said Yoshitaka Asakura, project general manager in Toyota's hybrid-vehicle system-engineering division. Mr. Asakura said Toyota is concerned customers might not accept a plug-in hybrid electric car that has to be recharged every day, despite enthusiasm from environmental groups and electric-vehicle enthusiasts.... Bill Reinert, national manager for the advanced-technologies group at Toyota's U.S. sales arm, said adapting a hybrid vehicle so it can run for 20 miles on electricity alone could cost about $10,000 with current technology. "We are aware there is some market" at that cost level, Mr. Reinert said. But Toyota wants to understand at what price level it could sell the most vehicles.... Toyota's Mr. Asakura expressed skepticism about the concept of a plug-in hybrid car that would run only on battery power for 40 miles, the idea central to the Chevrolet Volt concept. Batteries powerful enough to achieve that would fill up the trunk of a car, he said. (Wall Street Journal)
|Toyota research and development chief Kazuo Okamoto [...] said it would be difficult for Toyota to match GM's planned time-table for launching a plug-in hybrid by 2010. [...] Okamoto said Toyota will use its existing hybrid system as it looks to build a commercial version of plug-in vehicles it has begun to test in the United States and Japan. The decision to use a modified Prius-system for the new car will mean a smaller battery that gives the vehicle a relatively shorter range in electric-only mode. [...] Toyota's North American sales chief Jim Lentz said Toyota was willing to be beaten to the market for a plug-in vehicle if that meant building a better vehicle. "It's important for Toyota to be first," he told Reuters. "While we'd love to be first, we're determined to be best." (Reuters)
|"There is a consumer market at some price-point for plug- ins," Bill Reinert, national manager for advanced vehicle technology at Toyota's U.S. unit, said. "We just don't yet know the size of that market. [...] Extra batteries to provide all-electric range could add between $5,000 and $10,000 to the cost of such a car, more than many consumers may be willing to pay," Reinert said. ( Bloomberg News)
|In fact, we have consistently affirmed that there are many issues that need to be resolved, beyond the safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries, before a commercial lithium-ion-equipped hybrid - and what we're talking about here is the so-called plug-in hybrid, or PHEV -- is ready for the market. These issues include battery cost, availability, performance and packaging. All of the car makers face the same problems when it comes to these issues. The answers, unfortunately, are not just around the corner..... And when it comes to PHEVs, the race to produce a workable, practical PHEV won't necessarily go to the swift. It will go to the company that gets its homework done properly. ....Prototype hybrids using lithium-ion batteries already exist, but promises of longer driving ranges on a single charge appear to be several years away. Why? Because nobody has fully figured out the optimum use of lithium-ion batteries in automobiles.... But there's just no way to tell when the required chemical, engineering and manufacturing breakthroughs will be made. -- Irv Miller, Group Vice President, Corporate Communications, Toyota, in (Toyota's Open Road Blog)
|The Japanese car company has been saying for months that it would take years before it had a battery capable of powering a commercially viable plug-in. "There's still a lot of development that needs to be done from the standpoint of cost, safety and weight," a Toyota spokesman said this week. -- (Los Angeles Times)
|Toyota spokesman John McCandless said the company does not comment on its product plans, but he disagreed that the developments give GM an edge. "No one can leap ahead of anybody until the products get to market," McCandless said. -- (Forbes)
|A senior Toyota executive said the timing for the launch of Toyota's first lithium-ion-battery hybrid model is close to being finalized, though the company's medium-term hybrid plan is 'still very, very fluid in some aspects.' The executive said the lithium-ion Prius will most likely hit the market in early 2011 but that there is a force within Toyota's engineering and product-development division that is insisting on launching the model by the end of 2010. In that case, it could be a horse race between Toyota and GM. (Wall Street Journal)
|Irv Miller, Group Vice President - Corporate Communications: We're immensely gratified that some enthusiasts, in a tacit endorsement of the hybrid concept, are, on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis, converting Toyota hybrids to plug-in technology. But doing one-by-one conversions is a different kettle of volts from making this technology viable for the sale of hundreds of thousands of cars, at an affordable price, with a reasonable reliability expectations and reasonable warranty, serviceable at any Toyota dealer anywhere. That said, the interest in conversions continues to validate hybrid technology as a core technology that's here to stay. (Toyota Open Road Blog)
|Toyota Motor Corp. announced today that it has developed a plug-in hybrid vehicle and become the first manufacturer to have such a vehicle certified for use on public roads in Japan.. The TOYOTA Plug-in HV-certified for public road-use by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport...increased battery capacity gives it a longer electric-motor-only cruising range and a battery-charging device allows users to replenish the batteries using household electricity. These features enable the vehicle to run more often in gasoline-free, electric-only mode, such as on short trips in city driving. The resulting fuel efficiency improvements mean lower CO2 emissions and less fossil fuel consumption and, therefore, less pollution. Also, charging the battery with less-expensive nighttime electricity lowers total running costs, providing an economic benefit to owners. Although challenges still exist in the development of pure electric vehicles such as a limited cruising range and issues related to cost, TMC still views plug-in hybrid vehicles as a promising technology for allowing electricity to serve as a viable power source for automobiles and is committed to their continued development as a key environmental technology. TMC plans to conduct public-road tests in Japan with eight units of the TOYOTA Plug-in HV to verify electric-motor-only cruising ranges and optimal battery capacity. While doing so, it plans to provide the government with data for formulating testing methods for emissions and fuel efficiency and to consider TMC's measures for promoting plug-in hybrids and the use of electricity. There are also plans to conduct public-road tests of the TOYOTA Plug-in HV in the United States and in Europe. (Company Press Release)
|The Toyota executive in charge of technology, Masatami 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...Toyota Plug-in HV... has a cruising range of 13 kilometers (8 miles) on electricity. Takimoto said tests will help in deciding the range consumers want....Details of its plug-in hybrid tests for the U.S. and Europe are still undecided, Takimoto said. (Associated Press)
|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 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. "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." (New York Times)
|Toyota has delayed the launch of the third-generation hybrid to the spring of 2009...early versions of the new Prius will not be equipped with lithium-ion batteries. General Motors, meanwhile, is reportedly quite pleased at the Prius problems because it will likely mean that it can beat Toyota to market with a lithium-ion battery-based vehicle. (Auto-week)
|"Toyota Motor Corp. expects to cut costs for hybrid cars enough to be able to make as much money on them as it does on conventional gasoline cars by around 2010.... By 2020, [Masatami Takimoto, executive vice president in charge of powertrain development] said he expected hybrids to become the standard drivetrain and account for "100 percent" of Toyota's vehicles....He added that plug-in hybrids, which can be recharged through an electric socket, were still years away from practical application. (Reuters)
|Bill Reinert, National Manager, Advanced Technologies Group, Toyota Motor Sales USA, confirmed the company is working on "blended" PHEVs, where battery power covers the most inefficient part of the internal combustion engine's operation, which he said would enable them to extend the battery's life. When asked, are batteries ready yet, he said flat-out "no." He cited life-cycle challenges for deep-discharging PHEV batteries. He said he was "not so concerned about cost challenges: we might be able to internalize that." But most importantly, he insisted, "We need to give you all the batteries that you would expect to get in a car, that's 100,000 or 150,000 miles. Felix and I might differ on that -- Felix and I were talking the other day -- but we don't expect the battery and the battery maintenance to be part of the ownership cost of your car. It's not in today's Prius and we wouldn't expect that in the future. (Report on Cascadia Conference)
|"Ten years from now, your children will be driving a plug-in hybrid powered by diesel, ethanol or blended fuel." —Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America, first non-Japanese member of Toyota Motors' Board of Directors in exclusive interview at Edmunds.com's. (Autoobserver)
|"We are doing consumer research right now as well as product development," said Toyota North America President Jim Press. (Reuters)
|Toyota asked, ""In the future, what direction would you like to see hybrids go?" The largest category: 39% want PHEVs. (Toyota's Winter 2007 Hybrid Synergy View Newsletter)
|[Bill Reinert, Toyota's U.S. engineer in charge of advanced vehicle planning] also told me that the current Toyota system already has the ability to accommodate the larger battery capacity of a plug-in hybrid, which would use electric power for local trips and fuel only for longer excursions. But those large batteries don't yet exist. Was that extra capacity put there on purpose? "Hell, yes," he says. "This company is not stupid." (NY Times Magazine)
|In an interview with BusinessWeek on Feb. 16, Chief Executive Katsuaki Watanabe confirmed that Toyota's third-generation hybrid cars, due out in late 2008 or early 2009, will use lithium-ion batteries....[on the second generation], we reduced both the cost and size by half. We are currently working on the third generation hybrid, which will also have a much higher performance and good mileage per gallon. [implicitly, not a PHEV] (Business Week report and )
|"We are hearing the voice of the customer, and we want [plug-ins] as much as anyone else," [Toyota Motor North America President Jim] Press said. "It is not a lack of desire; it is a lack of science. We don't want to come out with a technology prematurely that might not succeed." (Edmunds.com)
|"We hope to have some products in the near future, but we're not prepared to say yet when that will be," says Bruce Brownlee, the senior executive administrator at Toyota Technical Center, in Gardena, CA. "The potential [of plug-in hybrids] is terrific."(MIT Technology Review)
|"We want it as much as anybody else, but there are limits right now in terms of technology. It's not lack of desire. It's lack of science," James E. Press, Toyota's U.S. chief executive, said yesterday in Washington. (Washington Post)
|"Toyota North American President Jim Press said the Japanese automaker was "really enthused that the industry and other auto companies are embracing this [PHEV] technology." (Associated Press)
|"We are seriously studying the plug-in, especially for short distance drivers," Yusei Higaki, a project manager in the global external affairs division at Toyota. (ZD Net news)
|[Executive Engineer Dave Hermance] said the first lithium-battery-powered hybrid should be on the road within three years. He expects all hybrids to be lithium-based within 10 years. "Plug-ins will fall somewhere between there," Hermance said, adding that he expects those vehicles to be marketable within five years. (The Louisville Courier-Journal)
|"Plug-ins, [David Hermance] said, "have been put forward as the silver bullet solution for almost everything." But, he said, plug-ins are "not yet ready for prime time.... The cost-benefit relationship has got to be there," said Mr. Hermance of Toyota. "If you can't sell them, they can't do anybody any good." (New York Times)
|Masatami Takimoto, Toyota's executive vice president for research, said though Toyota was researching hybrid vehicles that could be recharged by plugging into an electrical outlet, such vehicles wouldn't be feasible for mass production without a breakthrough in battery technology. He also said Toyota was conducting battery research and wanted to be the first mass producer of plug-in hybrids. (Detroit Free Press)
|"But Toyota executive engineer David Hermance says the bar is high for automakers. "I guarantee the battery's not ready," he says. "We won't bring a product to market unless it meets our internal durability and reliability tests." That's why Toyota has given no timeline on introduction of a plug-in hybrid. "It's generally regarded as inevitable that we will get a better battery," he says. "Nobody knows just when." (US News & World Report)
|"As a long-term vision, plug-in hybrids are really appealing in terms of energy diversity. Depending upon the grid mix and the manufacturing efficiency of the elements of the system, they may offer reduced lifecycle CO2 in addition to reduced fuel consumption. To reach the vision requires a breakthrough in battery technology ...for capacity, energy storage, durability and cost. With today's best technologies, plug-ins are not commercially viable." (Testimony at CA Air Resources Board Symposium by David Hermance, Executive Engineer for Advanced Technology Vehicles at Toyota Technical Center.)
|"...affordable plug-in hybrids are a decade away" (spokesman Bill Kwong in Reuters/Washington Post)
|The [Prius] redesign is likely for the 2010 or 2011 model year. The next generation probably will have plug-in capability, as in letting you plug it in to your house's grid to recharge and allowing you to drive on full electricity for the first 40 or so miles. It also may have a rheostat so drivers can select a performance or fuel-economy mode. (Automotive News)
|Toyota has had a change of heart about plug-in hybrid vehicles, said Dennis Cuneo, senior vice president of the company's North American operations. He said Toyota believes it could have a plug-in hybrid ready sooner. "We're a little more optimistic now of breakthroughs that would make (lithium-ion batteries) viable in the near term," Cuneo said. "If you look at the progress we've made with our regular hybrids, it's clear that we can face these challenges." (Louisville Courier-Journal)
|"Obviously, the plug-in has captured the public's imagination. Our engineers are optimistic that there's a normal development curve and with advanced battery technology we will be able to get there."(Spokeswoman Cindy Knight in The Detroit News)
|"We are pursuing a plug-in hybrid vehicle that can travel greater distances without using its gas engine, conserving more oil and slicing smog and greenhouse gases to nearly imperceptible levels," Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America, said in a Washington speech Tuesday. Such vehicles could be "years away," depending on how long it takes to improve the types of batteries required, Press said. (Bloomberg/Detroit News)
|"'Our position has kind of evolved on this,' spokeswoman Cindy Knight said. 'It is something we are seriously looking at.' Toyota is testing a new lithium-ion battery meant to last a decade, Knight said, but costs could reach roughly $10,000."(Seattle Times)
|"Toyota declined to say when such a car might be ready for release."(Wall St. Journal)
|"Toyota Motor Corp will advance its research and development of plug-in hybrid vehicles (which can be charged from an external power source and provide electricity) and is currently working on a next-generation vehicle that can extend the distance traveled by the electric motor alone and that is expected to have a significant effect on reducing CO2 and helping to abate atmospheric pollution."(Toyota press release)
|"Toyota said they would take many years to become commercially viable."(Reuters)
|"Toyota is working on plans for 'plug-ins' for the battery from the grid at fuel stations, with future hybrids carrying a traditional power-point for domestic appliances to be used outside the home. Mr Abe [head of Toyota's hybrid division] said the next Prius model will be able to do a nine-mile commute to work without using any petrol or diesel." (The Guardian)
|"We can have a little engine, a little engine, that runs at one constant RPM and does nothing more than fill the battery up full time along with regenerative braking and you can get 100 to 150 miles a gallon." [Malcolm Bricklin] said a working proof of concept would be built in six months and that the cars would be in production by 2009. "We're starting to build the prototype," he said. (Reuters)
|Indefatigable auto entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin, no longer planning to import Chinese-made cars to the U.S., now says he wants to market a line of 100-mpg plug-in hybrid vehicles that he says could be priced 20% to 30% less than gasoline-engine vehicles. (USA Today)
|"The technology wasn't ready to make it work back then," Bricklin said. "But it's ready now. We can do this. We can give America an affordable car that gets 100 miles per gallon. We have to do this." ... He said he plans to discuss the idea with [Caroll] Shelby and [Lee] Iacocca. He beamed at the thought -- what a magnificent last hurrah. Three members of the "automotive over-the-hill gang" beating the big companies to market with a 100-miles-per-gallon car. (Washington Post)
|GÖTEBORG, SWEDEN - Together with electricity provider Vattenfall, Saab Automobile, ETC and the Swedish state, Volvo Car Corporation is launching a joint broad-based research venture to develop spearhead technology in the area of plug-in hybrid cars. "We have a unique opportunity to take the lead when it comes to innovations for advanced green-car technology", says Fredrik Arp, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation. "Within the next decade, we will see more electric vehicles on our roads," says Fredrik Arp. (Volvo Press Release)
DAIMLERCHRYSLER (concerning their PHEV prototypes of Sprinter van)
- "a great opportunity to develop the vehicles we foresee in the future." (Business Week, June 27, 2005)
- "This is part of a small program investigating these technologies." (New York Times, June 27, 2005)
- "In the end it should be viable and economic for our customers." Rolf Bartke, head of the Mercedes-Benz van division (Time Magazine, June 27, 2005)
- Nick Cappa, manager of advanced technology communications: "It's just an idea program," (Automotive News, March 28, 2005)
- Bill Ford, Chairman and CEO: "We... are looking at plug-in hybrids and you made some very good points in your presentation," and "...yes, we are very keenly looking at it and working with that technology." (Annual Shareholders Meeting, May 11, 2006)
- According to Nick Twork, powertrain and technology spokesperson: "Ford is studying plug-ins for the future solution, but currently there are technical problems." (carlist.com, Sept 1, 2005)
- Gerhard Schmidt, VP of Research and Advanced Engineering: "We are looking at a range of potential alternative fuel solutions to address the issues around eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels and global warming - and it may include a plug-in hybrid. (Correspondence to an individual, June 27, 2005)
- Peter Savagian, engineering director at General Motors Powertrain, said his company is looking into plug-ins, along with other technologies, and is kind of intrigued by the concept." (Automotive News, Jan 25, 2006)
- "Plugin hybrids have a lot of promise, especially to displace oil consumption. They need and deserve further research and development."(Testimony of John German, Manager, Environmental and Energy Analyses Product Regulator Office American Honda Motor Company, Inc. before the Subcommittee on Energy of the Committee on Science U.S. House of Representatives, May 17, 2006)
- "Honda strongly supports the research program outlined in the House discussion draft of the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Act of 2006. Hybrids, including plug-in hybrids have a great deal of promise and their potential issues should be actively investigated for solutions, especially energy storage. (ibid, May 17, 2006)
- "Honda and Ford did not return calls for comment."(Toronto Star, Aug 16, 2005)
- "Toyota is working into solving the many issues that must first be addressed to bring PHEV to the mass market, including: 1. battery technology; 2. cost; 3. regulatory EPA approval." (Response to consumer inquiries after NPR story, February, 2006)
- "The mass market is not interested in plug-ins," says Cindy Knight, Toyota's environmental- communications administrator. "With the Prius, we've launched an enormous marketing campaign to say that it does not need to be plugged in, but people are still asking the dealers, "How long does it go on batteries?" It is definitely perceived as a negative… People see plugging in as a chore. Our engineers have taken a look [at what Frank has done]; they talk to those guys all the time," says Knight. "And we agree with proponents that we need to diversify our transportation-fuel mix, but we feel the battery technology is not there yet to meet mass-market needs … they're too expensive and not reliable. If we get closer to a tipping point and consumers are willing to pay more for the vehicle, that improves the equation for commercialization," says Toyota's Knight. (Comstock's Magazine, February, 2006)
- "Thank you for contacting Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. We appreciate your interest in Toyota. We apologize; we do not currently have any announced plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid Toyota vehicle in the U.S. We are, however, aware of consumer interest in this type of vehicle and have documented your comments at our National Headquarters under file #200602070564." Another response: "We are, however, aware of consumer interest, and consistently strive to remain competitive in today's market. Your comments and interest in this type of vehicle have been documented at our National Headquarters, where they remain available to the appropriate departments." (Toyota "Customer Experience" Representatives responding to letter-writers, February, 2006)
- "You can certainly make a vehicle that will run, but you can't necessarily make a vehicle that people will buy." Spokeswomen Cindy Knight says Toyota does not think the concept is ready for prime time, at least not until there's a technological breakthrough in batteries that are lighter, more durable and cheaper. She doesn't rule it out for Toyota, but she says that the company also has to keep certain marketing concerns in mind. "Toyota went to great lengths to address the drawbacks of battery vehicles so that people do not have to plug our hybrids in, and our customers tell us that that is one of the features they like about the vehicle, they don't have to plug it in." (NPR All Things Considered, February, 2006)
- Bill Kwong, a spokesman for Toyota, says the company doesn't encourage buyers of its hybrids to use kits, made by some companies, that convert them into plug-ins, since "it cycles the batteries down way too deeply and shortens the life of the batteries." For that reason, he says Toyota isn't working on a plug-in hybrid. (Wall Street Journal, January, 2006)
- "Selling plug-in hybrids will also cause confusion with consumers and could hurt sales," Hermance said. Most people don't want the responsibility of recharging batteries every day. "Plus," he said, "manufacturers spent years convincing consumers that hybrids were not like the electric vehicles that failed to gain commercial acceptance." (Wired News, November 16, 2005)
- "Future advances in technology may, and I emphasize may, make a plug in hybrid feasible as a commercial product. However, this would take significant advances in battery technology and cost. And the overall environmental impact of the grid source of electrical power must also be considered....Overall, no change in our stance, no dramatic reversal of message and no imminent plug-in hybrid announcement." (Mike Michels, Corporate Manager, External Communications for Toyota Sales, USA to EVWORLD, November 9, 2005)
- Bill Reinert is Toyota National Alternate Fuel Vehicle manager. Reinert says any combustion engine can be made flex-fuel, so he agrees with the environmentalists and policy hawks that these cars can be built without too much trouble. But, he says, what no one yet knows is whether people would buy a plug-in flex fuel Camry or Highlander. "And while you see a lot of unsold SUVs on the lots, that doesn't necessarily mean that people are just going right to Priuses or flexible fuels. You could make a big miscalculation in assuming that's the case.... If you are burning coal in an antiquated coal-fired power plant to produce the electricity, you are really going backwards from an environmental point of view. And really, what you're doing is you are trading off petroleum for coal, and there's a lot of attendant problems with that in Appalachia and areas like that. (Living On Earth, October, 2005)
- "We have a vision of the driver being able to hook up their laptop to a port to alter that profile and get the driving characteristics that they want," said Cindy Knight, spokesperson for Toyota in Torrance, California. "That's an idea for the future. Right now it takes a horde of technicians to do that." (National Geographic, August, 2005)
- "Like you, we at Toyota are very interested in this technology. It is something we are studying for the future as one avenue to adding diversity to the transportation energy mix. Plug-in hybrids can further reduce petroleum consumption, improve fuel economy, possibly ease our dependence on foreign oil and potentially lower greenhouse gas emissions.That said, we also recognize that there are limitations to plug-in hybrids. As you well know, the true environmental impact of a plug-in depends on the source of the electrical charge. Coal-burning power plants do not lessen the greenhouse gas production and criteria pollutants increase. Secondly, to create a vehicle that meets consumers' needs, a breakthrough in battery technology in regard to capacity, durability and cost, is necessary. Outside experts predict this isn't likely to happen this decade...." (IRV MILLER, GROUP VP, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, TOYOTA MOTOR SALES, INDIVIDUAL COMMUNICATION -- full text at (CalCars News, August 15, 2005)
- Toyota, known as the pioneer hybrid car company, could look at replacing their Nickel Metal Hydride battery with a Lithium-Ion battery, according to Dave Hermance, Chief Engineer for Environmental Issues for Toyota. Hermance speculates that "At the battery conference held in June in Hawaii it was said that Lithium Ion is about 3-5 years away for hybrids and another 5-8 years away to get to a rational price point." Laughing, Hermance adds, "of course, that’s not to say that we wouldn’t start at an irrational price point" Hermance also points out that the cost of Nickel has increased three-fold in the last five years, making the NiMH battery less attractive. (CarList.com, August 15, 2005)
- But Toyota Motor Corp. officials who initially frowned on people altering their cars now say they may be able to learn from them. "They're like the hot rodders of yesterday who did everything to soup up their cars. It was all about horsepower and bling-bling, lots of chrome and accessories," said Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman. "Maybe the hot rodders of tomorrow are the people who want to get in there and see what they can do about increasing fuel economy." (Associated Press, August, 2005)
- "I think at some point you'll even have a button you can pick, mileage versus performance, because you're managing the system" said Jim Press, president and COO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, to a conference of auto executives (while announcing that he expected a quarter of US auto sales to be hybrids within 10 years): (NY Times, August, 2005)
- "Almost 60 per cent of U.S. electricity is generated by burning coal — so (we're) not sure plugging in cars in the end offers very much environmental benefit," the company says, adding that it may be "trading one form of emissions for another." (Toronto Star, August 1, 2005)
- Hermance says that while the PHEV concept has merit, it won't work with the current generation of lithium-ion batteries, which, while powerful, are both too expensive and temperamental for use in mass-production cars. Depending on their chemistry, lithium-ion batteries tend to get really hot -- thermal runaway, it's called—and, as the military well knows, to ignite. "The betting line of developers is that a lithium-ion battery of sufficient cost, durability and safety is three to five years away."...The guerrilla interest in PHEVs puts Toyota in an unfamiliar posture: on the defensive. "We're getting a lot of pressure from the public," says Cindy Knight, a company spokesperson. "We've shown that we have the energy chops to do it, so people say, 'Why don't we do it?'" (LA Times, July, 2005)
- "So you have a higher up-front cost, a heavier vehicle that gets less fuel economy with less performance, and the prospect of replacing the battery during [the car's] life," he says....Toyota's Hermance insists that, barring a spectacular breakthrough in battery chemistry, the cost of nickel-metal hydride batteries will remain around $1100/kWh for the foreseeable future. He concedes that the Prius's nickel-metal hydride battery packs have become significantly cheaper since Toyota began producing the car for the Japanese market in late 1997--power densities have gone up, allowing the car to get the same acceleration with a smaller battery pack. But energy density hasn't really improved, so energy storage remains as expensive as ever. (IEEE Spectrum, July, 2005)
- "While hot rodders used to soup up their engines and pour on the chrome, they're now tinkering with computers to maximize their fuel mileage. It's a whole new passion for auto enthusiasts. We share that spirit of making the most cost-effective and most environmentally responsible vehicles possible." (Irv Miller, letter referenced above)
- Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight said, "We are watching [plug-in designs] with interest. It is probably within the range of solutions we would consider" eventually as an alternative power plant design. (LA Times, July, 2005)
- Toyota spokeswoman Cindy Knight warned that EDrive's modifications will void the Prius' powertrain warranty, and said the company is "dubious" about a pluggable Prius. "Right now we don't see this as commercially viable," she said. "We think there need to be breakthroughs in battery technology to make it commercially viable." (Wired News, July 11, 2005)
- "The situation is evolving," said Cindy Knight, a Toyota spokeswoman in Southern California. "We're studying the matter, and keeping a careful eye on the projects happening around California."(San Jose Mercury News, June 22, 2005)
- "Customers," says Ed LaRocque, "are not telling us plug-in hybrids are something they'd like to see at no cost, let alone what we estimate would be an additional $15,000." (Time Magazine, June 6, 2005)
- Ed LaRocque, National Manager for Advanced Technology Vehicles with Toyota Motor Sales, asked at sessions of the Clean Cities Conference (May 2005), "Will your hybrids be able to plug in to recharge for local travel?," replied, "We're listening."
- David Hermance, Toyota's executive engineer for environmental engineering: "We keep looking at the concept, and at some point it might be feasible, but it isn't there yet," (Business Week, April 11, 2005)
- "They say this is the next great thing, but it just isn't" ..."The electric utilities really want to sell electricity and they want to sell it to the transportation sector because that expands their market. They have an agenda." ...And Mr. Hermance of Toyota said that batteries today were not durable enough to handle the wide range of charging up and charging down that a plug-in hybrid would need, calling that the most damaging thing you can do to a battery .... Mr. Hermance said the feature [EV Button] was disabled in Priuses sold in the United States because of complications it would have created in emissions-testing rules. NY Times, April 11, 2005)
- Cindy Knight, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A: "We're exploring every avenue" for reducing reliance on petroleum, she says. (Automotive News, March 28, 2005)