Takimoto's Vision

Futuristic concept vehicles were on full display this week at the 22nd International Battery, Hybrid, and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Symposium—commonly known as EVS22. But the clearest vision of the tomorrow’s cars was provided by Masatami Takimoto, Toyota’s executive vice president in charge of powertrain development, during his opening address at the conference on October 26 in Yokohama, Japan.

Takimoto spoke explicitly about plug-in hybrids. Today’s hybrids do not need to be plugged in; however, the idea of extending a hybrid’s electric capability by plugging into a common household electrical outlet has been gaining momentum in the United States.

Until recently, Toyota dismissed the idea as impractical. Earlier this year, Jim Press, president of Toyota North America, gave hints that the company may be researching plug-in technology. Takimoto’s talk added fuel to the fire. He showed slides comparing the current generation Prius with a plug-in version, and discussed the implications for fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions, and operating costs. While he made no announcements about vehicle launches, Takimoto made it clear that a plug-in vehicle could be in Toyota’s future.

Breaking ranks from other car companies that view hybrids as a stepping stone to some other ultimate goal, such as fuel cell vehicles, Takimoto positioned hybrids as a core capability to be paired with any number of potential technologies. Toyota is shifting the question of future automotive technology from an either-or position—hybrids or diesels, hybrids or fuel cells—to a multiple choice question. And from Takimoto’s view, the answer is all-of-the-above: gas-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, diesel-electric hybrids, and fuel cell hybrids.

Up to this point, Takimoto’s English-language translator took these hyphenated hybridizations in stride. But the translator tripped over Takimoto’s poetic descriptions of the perfect vehicle—flying clouds, magic carpets, and mythical Japanese characters. One thing was not lost in translation: a top automotive executive was speaking openly about critical issues associated with his product, including accidents, urban air pollution, global warming, and oil dependence. Moreover, he took some responsibility for these problems and articulated a strategy to resolve them.

Takimoto’s presentation at EVS22 stands in sharp contrast to the auto industry leader’s standard canned response to tough questions about product: "Hey, we just build what people want." Toyota is betting that, at some point in the future, consumers will demand a more sustainable motor vehicle—and they want to be the car company to provide it. This strategy of anticipating and influencing market direction has contributed to Toyota’s position as the most profitable, and if current trends continue, the largest car company in the world. Takimoto’s talk highlights a major advantage that Toyota has over other automakers: long-term vision.


  • econguy

    This is more encouraging news that engineers and execs at Toyota get it in terms of market buzz and potential gains and long-term development strategies.

  • Macrame Lover

    Still using destructive matters in all of these “wannabe” clean cars.

    I’ll buy a car when we won’t need to rely on the arabs and Bush’s oil plants.

    Until then, GAIA will consume you all, and there is NOTHING you can do about it…except understand and CHANGE. (Hope you don’t have kids, it is sadistic nowadays to put children in a society that is doomed in the next 25 to 50 years. Continue voting for Republicans, they’ve destroyed a lot of the planet and Bush is doing its best to finish it!!)

  • Trek

    A zero emmissions power source is, “a spinning magnet, ambient temperature superconductor motor” as a power source.

  • simon

    I think hybrids are more of the future than is generally thought – the other technologies are just science fiction, as far as infrastructure and the technology goes.

  • Storm Connors

    A hybrid that gets 100 mpg is still 100% dependent on oil. A plug in hybrid is the best available option. It could be produced tomorrow. All the technology is available.

  • Michael Sandler

    :grin Kudos to Toyota!

    I give credit where credit is due. Can they do better? Sure. Is enough being done. Certainly not. Are we, the consumer to blame as well? Absolutely!

    But isn’t it a pleasant change??? Isn’t it great to see him break the mold?

    Too little, too late? Perhaps, but that’s a societal or human ill. At least he’s giving it a go, and I think that’s great.

    Good job Toyota! You have my support. Thank you for thinking as a global community member, rather than simply a profit-monger. You should be rewarded!!!

    Realize the Prius helped make more plug-ins viable. Aren’t steps in the right direction much better than no steps at all???

  • JROJAI

    Toyota is so far ahead of the other car manufacturers as is evident as more consumers are starting to buy their cars than any other manufacturer. All we need is oil prices to go up just a little more before it becomes obvious to the remaining skeptics.
    Toyota understands how to make cars reliable and how to make them last. On top of that they are leaders in addressing the environmental concerns that only now the only some of the other car manufacturers are even admitting are important.

    I think it is wonderful that we have this option in the marketplace.

  • angel

    I hope to get this car in the future when i graduate. hope fully it will be out by then. :cry 8) :sigh I think this car is pretty cool and very evolve from a different time. it is very intresting hope to see it in the future!

  • Warren

    It is great that Toyota’s Exec VP made the statement. Toyota’s growth into becoming the world’s leading automobile manufacturer puts the guantlet down. Unless as an Exec VP it is only a stirring of the waters. President of the company would have been better.

    GM’s sorry situation is a shame but mirrors America’s global view for the last 80 years, that giant American companies are immune to contemplative leadership. Just think, they lost 10 Billion in 2005 and if they’d read the lines, not between them, they would have spent it on EV technology and been reaping Toyota’s profits.

    I confess surprise that the one who scuttled the EV1 admits it was a mistake. Toyota leads and sells – GM sells. There is a difference.

    It was great to read Takimoto’s remarks. I hope they bear fruit in kind.

  • justin(monkey)

    see, they make these cars that are nothing but eye canding, and i want to grab one of the lot right now. but we have to wait for so long till it hits the states….why!!! :?

  • jthfd

    the world needs a good hybrid like this. i would love to drive this car down my driveway and have my neighbors staring at it in awe. hopefully i can get this car for chistmas

    love sarah

  • Carl Olson

    We need more corporate leadership like this. As consumers we can influence the rate of change. :)

  • Svemir Vranko, Croatia

    the new technology for cars and other usage should be sunlight & energy from invisible space-in India called prana, in China Chi, in Japan Ki. It is everywhere, it is always accesible. Imagine micro black hole in every car engine that sucks light and matter like pressed garbage transforming it into electric energy. My beloved statesman Tesla invented electric generator and el. motor that we use in hybrids. Thank you Tesla, you are still changing the world :p .

  • twtex

    Where does the electricity, that a “plug in” car would use, come from? In so many cases, a coal burning power plant. Lets see now.. what is coal made from? Oh yeah that’s right, its carbon! And what do you get when you oxidize (burn) carbon? I’m pretty sure its carbon dioxide. You know, CO2. That stuff that’s been identified as the major cause of global warming. So can someone explain to me how a “plug in” car would be greener than what we’re driving now? At least with petroleum, some of the energy comes from the oxidation of hydrogen. The results of that reaction is water ya know…

  • splashy

    I would imagine some of that power could come from wind power. Here is a website where you can read about Native Americans starting up a wind power system.

    http://www.nativewind.org/

    The more of that, the better off we will be.

  • Sean

    To twtex:
    Plug-in cars are greener because, even if electricity is produced by a coal/diesel plant, the much higher efficiency compared to the very low of ICE in cars, although some will be lost on the network. And electricity can be produced by green sources: wind, hydro-power, wave, solar, etc

    To angel: When will you graduate? Look at this: http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/4212545.html

    Hope you can buy one. ;-)

    Toyota is leading because they have long term vision, other brands (you know which ones) just try to produce monsters, no wonder…
    Toyota’s principle#1: Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.
    Have a nice day ;-)

  • vinaya Babu

    Hats off to Toyota. They care for their customers, no surprise, they have become the #1 Car manufactures in the world.
    I will appreciate their guard against introducing a PHEV in haste because they care their image

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