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Old 01-13-2008, 11:25 PM   #1
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Toyota Will Offer a Plug-In Hybrid by 2010

At first I though, Oh crap....
But after reading what they want to make to compete with the Volt, had me laughing. Leave it to Toyota.......

Quote:
DETROIT — The Toyota Motor Corporation, which leads the world’s automakers in sales of hybrid-electric vehicles, announced Sunday night that it would build its first plug-in hybrid by 2010.The move puts Toyota in direct competition with General Motors, which has announced plans to sell its own plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, sometime around 2010.

Katsuaki Watanabe, the president of Toyota, announced the company’s plans at the Detroit auto show as part of a series of environmental steps.

Mr. Watanabe said Toyota, best known for its Prius hybrid car, would develop a fleet of plug-in hybrids that run on lithium-ion batteries, instead of the nickel-metal hydride batteries that power the Prius and other Toyota models.

Plug-in hybrids differ from the current hybrid vehicles in that they can be recharged externally, from an ordinary power outlet. In a conventional hybrid the battery is recharged from power generated by its wheels.

Mr. Watanabe said the lithium-ion fleet would be made available first to Toyota’s commercial customers around the world, like government agencies and corporations, including some in the United States. He did not say when they would be available to consumers.

The Volt also is set to run on lithium-ion batteries, which are more expensive than the batteries currently used by Toyota, but which can potentially power the vehicle for a longer time.

Additionally, Toyota said it planned to develop a new hybrid-electric car specifically for its Lexus division as well as another new hybrid for the Toyota brand. It said it would unveil both at the 2009 Detroit show.

Mr. Watanabe also said Toyota planned to offer diesel engines for its Tundra pickup truck and the Sequoia sport utility vehicle “in the near future,” but was not more specific.

Some environmental groups have pushed for plug-in hybrids, called PHEVs, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, as a way to save on gasoline, thus curbing emissions.

But some experts say plug-ins may not be the ultimate answer to cutting pollution, if the electricity used to charge them comes from coal-fired power plants.

That is also a concern to Toyota, which has asked researchers to determine not only whether consumers would be willing to pay for a plug-in, but also the effect it would have on the environment, James Lentz, the president of Toyota Motor Sales, said in an interview Sunday.

Nonetheless, G.M., Toyota and Ford Motor, the world’s three biggest car companies, all are developing plug-in hybrid vehicles. Along with the Volt, G.M. has said it plans to produce a plug-in version of its Saturn Vue hybrid. Ford has not yet given details of its plug-in hybrid, which it first discussed in 2006.

Indeed, Toyota executives initially questioned the practicality of plug-in hybrids, saying consumers preferred the convenience of hybrids that did not have to be recharged. Toyota has sold more than one million hybrids worldwide, including more than 800,000 Prius cars.

But the automaker announced last July that it was testing plug-in hybrids on public roads in Japan. It also is testing them in France, Toyota officials said Sunday, and it has given prototype versions of plug-in hybrid vehicles to university researchers in California.

Even before those test results are in, however, Toyota has offered plug-in hybrid test drives to journalists in Japan, California and Detroit, where a small fleet bearing the words “Toyota Plug-In Hybrid” traveled city streets on Sunday.

This plug-in hybrid — a version of the Prius, and not the vehicle Toyota announced it would build — differs from the Prius in four ways. It has two nickel-metal hydride batteries under the floor of its trunk, instead the conventional Prius’s single battery.

Unlike the Prius, which has a single fuel-filler door on the left side of the car, the plug-in model has another door on the right hand side that opens to reveal an outlet for the electrical charger. One end of the charger looks like a small fuel nozzle; the other end is a conventional three-pronged plug.

Each charge, which takes about four hours, uses the equivalent of 2.7 kilowatt hours of electricity, said Jaycie Chitwood, a senior strategic planner in Toyota’s advanced technologies group.

Inside the car, there is a button with the letters “EV” inside an outline of a car. If the driver pushes the button, the car reverts to electric vehicle mode, meaning the Prius is powered completely by its two batteries.

In electric mode, the Prius gets 99.9 miles a gallon, according to a gauge on a screen in the middle of the dashboard.

But it cannot go very far: the plug-in hybrid’s two batteries hold enough power for only seven miles, said Saúl Ibarra, a product specialist with Toyota who worked on developing the Prius.

By contrast, G.M. claims that the Volt will be able to hold a charge equal to 40 miles, after a six-hour charge.

Still, the electric mode of the Toyota plug-in is enough to start the car and run it until the engine reaches the point where it needs to tap the gasoline engine. The plug-in Prius can stay in electric mode until 62 miles per hour, versus around 30 miles per hour for the conventional Prius, Mr. Iba- rra said.

Despite its decision to step up its plug-in hybrid development, Toyota is not sure how much more consumers will want to pay for it, Mr. Lentz said. The Prius starts at $21,100. Some after-market companies are charging nearly that much to convert Prius models into plug-ins, he said.

Given that, it is more likely that Toyota would offer plug-in technology as an option on the Prius, at least in the short term, rather than switch all of its hybrids to plug-in models.

Ultimately, Toyota must determine “do people want to plug in their car?” Ms. Chitwood said.
Wow! 7 miles on the batteries.....Better close up shop, GM - you ain't going nowhere.
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:30 PM   #2
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Toyota is looking more and more like GM in the bad days from the mid 70s to a few years ago. All they care about is market share and sales volume, chasing it at the cost of profits and reliability (profits are still good, but I predict that will downturn a few years down the line). And now they're moving from leader to follower mode, making a product that just halfway competes with the innovative ideas of others. If you look at GM's bad days, they were the ones who reacted to Toyota. Ah how times change.
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:40 PM   #3
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You bring up a good point, I took this out of a Reuter's article:

Quote:
FRANKFURT, Jan 12 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp, which is likely to have been supplanted by Toyota Motor Corp as the world's largest carmaker last year, says quality is more important than production volume.

GM would not "spend one dollar in order to be number one," global product chief Bob Lutz told industry newspaper Automobilwoche in an interview due to be published on Monday.

"Good product quality, the company's image and the profit for shareholders are more important goals than the top position in volume."
I'm glad to be on the GM team this go-around.
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:58 PM   #4
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I used to work for Sport Chalet, and our motto was "To be not the biggest, but the best". I think that is the right philosophy to have. For so long Toyota understood that if quality comes first, volume follows. Sadly, they have lost sight of that and have put the cart before the horse.
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:23 AM   #5
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I prefer GM's approach to hybrids in general, make the cars that people want to buy into hybrids, not make hybrids then tell people that they should buy them. And the volt, if people are looking for a small, extremely efficient, and kinda cool looking car, there will be a market for it. For those that want a small, very efficient, and kinda goofy looking car they will buy a prius plug-in.
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Old 01-14-2008, 02:29 PM   #6
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To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee...."that's not a plug-in, that's a plug-in"

http://www.topspeed.com/cars/fisker/...a-ar50565.html

another article too....

http://www.autoblog.com/2008/01/14/d...owd-impresses/


Okay, too high priced, but DAMN....now, line the two plug-ins up side by side and see which one people want to drive. Notice the performance numbers too....do you think the Prius' 0-60 time is measured with a calendar rather than a stopwatch?

Oh, yeah, check the article....Fisker's plug in will be out before Toyota's. Don't be surprised to see someone like BMW (they've worked with Fisker on engines in the past) buy up the whole company just to get the technology. VW could be a huge player too....they have a goal of being bigger than Toyota in the near future, jumping into the plug-in market could be a quick first step towards achieving that goal.

Anyway, I agree with DGthe3...GM's approach is much better than Toyotas. Take the cars people want to drive and give them a hybrid option rather than making a POS and telling people they should drive it.
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Old 01-15-2008, 12:31 AM   #7
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I simply don't understand the point of doing all this work only to get 7 miles out of the batteries. You might as well do engine work on it to get better gas mileage.

The prius, I think we can pretty much all agree, doesn't win any awards in the looks dept. The Volt on the other hand....do I need to say more? Oh, and yeah...almost forgot...it gets 40 miles on a charge! Personally, I don't see ANY compaison between the two. Volt wins....HANDS DOWN.
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:03 AM   #8
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Toyota's got one thing on their side, though, that GM hasn't had for years...PR.
Hopefully the Volt will be the catalyst for a massive turnaround in that.
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Old 01-15-2008, 08:49 AM   #9
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GM is working hard to promote a greener image. I think they might need to take a more direct approach against Toyota. The hybrid silverado would be a good tool for that
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