Japanese Carmakers Prepare Assault of Hybrid and EV Models

Toyota, Honda and Nissan are planning to introduce a staggering number of hybrids and electric cars in the next three to five years. The specific product introductions are documented in the latest issue of Automotive News, which features a special report on future products from the Japanese brands. Of course, these plans are not set in stone, but they do indicate a serious commitment to hybrids in the immediate future.

Toyota is leading the way on hybrids—although it’s anything but a one-horse race. The Prius franchise is going to expand, with the introduction of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid in 2012. At the same time, according to Automotive News, Toyota will build a Prius coupe with “dramatic styling” to stack up against the Honda CR-Z sporty coupe hybrid. The company has already held a design competition between Toyota’s four global design studios for the coupe design.

The global vehicle could be built, at first, in Japan in 2012 as a 2013 model. Production will then shift to Toyota’s Mississippi plant, where the company had planned to produce Priuses before the economic downturn led to a decision to mothball the facility.

The Mississippi plant could also produce a Prius pick-up truck—based on the A-BAT pick-up concept—while a Prius wagon would be manufactured outside the U.S. for Asian and possibly European markets only. Our sources tell us that the next Prius slated for the U.S. market, sometime in 2011, is a crossover-sized model, significantly larger than the current Prius model.

As we’ve reported, Toyota will bring six new hybrids to market in 2012—four Toyota models and two from Lexus—as well as a small EV subcompact (in the spirit of the Scion iQ) and the RAV4 EV (which is joint project with Tesla). By 2013, if not sooner, Toyota will make the shift from nickel metal hydride batteries to lithium ion.

Automotive News says the Toyota Prius will go through a full redesign by 2015, at which time Toyota will produce a “decontented version” version of the Prius, intended for economy buyers.

What About Nissan and Honda?

The Automotive News list of electric-drive vehicles from Nissan and Honda is not nearly as long as Toyota’s. Nonetheless, Toyota’s competitors will not be left out of the hybrid race.

Nissan LEAF

Most of Nissan’s attention is focused on its electric car program, but a new Altima Hybrid and a number of Infiniti hybrid models are on the way.

Nissan’s efforts are almost exclusively focused on the introduction of the mass-production all-electric Nissan LEAF, arguably the most important vehicle introduction of the year (along with the Chevy Volt). It will be followed by an electric luxury version from Infiniti sometime in 2012 or 2013. Meanwhile, the company next year will release its first homegrown hybrid, the Infiniti M35 Hybrid. The same system will be utilized in the 2013 Altima Hybrid, which could finally go nationwide, after years of limited availability in just nine states.

As previously reported, Honda plans a set of larger hybrids, including a new version of the Accord Hybrid and the first gas-electric Honda Pilot. The company will also feature hybrid options for many of its top Acura luxury models. In 2012, Honda will introduce a small battery-electric commuter car—in the spirit of the EV-N concept. We suspect that production for the small EV will be limited.

Honda S2000

Honda seems to be focused on larger and more powerful hybrids, including gas-electric version of the Accord, Pilot and Acura models. The company could also bring back the S2000 sports convertible with a hybrid option. Electric, hydrogen, and CNG also play a role.

Honda is also continuing to move forward with the FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, and will outfit its Honda Civic GX CNG-powered car with a better fit and finish.

The only new information from Automotive News about Honda’s hybrid plans is the prospect of a high-performance version of the CR-Z hybrid. The core idea of the CR-Z, just introduced a couple of months ago, is to combine sportiness and fuel economy—but the model has been criticized for not offering quite enough mpg or horsepower. The company apparently is going to answer the need for speed by offering a high-performance CR-Z, while hopefully holding steady on fuel economy. Speaking of horsepower, according to Automotive News, Honda is resurrecting the idea of a hybrid version of the S2000 convertible sports car. It remains to be seen if Honda will move away from its mild hybrid architecture to a new hybrid system better suited to plug-in capabilities.


  • bill cosworth

    Yes an assault.

    The only thing green about Toyota is American money going to japan.

    Just look at our economy. Its just time to stop buying foreign goods now!

    The Japanese once said the Americans won the war but we will win the war after.

    No thanks. I will buy American.

    Ford and GM now builds better cars anyways so there is no advantage to give my money overseas.

  • Shines

    Bill, we live in a global economy – get used to it. I agree that Ford quality and reliability is at least as good as Toyota’s as far as the hybrids go. Still noone is offering competition to the Prius. I am happy to see Fusion hybrid sales better than Camry’s. The Volt needs to come down in price. Chrysler needs to do something…
    I am happy to see more hybrids and evs – more competition and more production will lead to lower prices.

  • TD

    Any more news on hybrid mini-vans? There have been some very vague reports, but nothing concrete. What models? And when?

  • Anonymous

    Thats true Bill

    All American money goes to Japan.
    I think Flex-fuels should be promoted since most of them are American made and also the Ethanol is American made. There are more than 8 million in US and E15 fuel may soon be approved.

  • Ben

    Ethanol? Really? I thought everyone already understood how we have way more energy being required as input for ethanol creation than what we get out of it.

    Full EV plus a tank for electric generation (gas or diesel) when needed. EV supplied by Solar Cells = definitive win.

  • Shines

    TD – from above: “Our sources tell us that the next Prius slated for the U.S. market, sometime in 2011, is a crossover-sized model, significantly larger than the current Prius model.”
    I expect this will be something very close to a mini-van…

    I hope something soon will have towing capability that doesn’t cost $38K+ like the Highlander hybrid…

  • JamesDavis

    Instead of the Japanese car makers using the word ‘Assault”, I think a better word would be “Onslaught”. When it comes to clean energy vehicles like the EVs – never buy American (unless its Telsa) unless you have more money than brains. American EV’s and hybrids are worthless expensive pieces of junk. 40 MPC at 25 MPH is not what I would call a worthy investment. Japan has, and always have had, the best and most affordable EVs and hybrids. If you are looking to get away from fossil fuels – go Japanese and then buy American when they catch up in about 50 years…if they ever do catch up.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Pickup Truck!?
    That would be a little miracle.

  • Paul Rivers

    Yaaaaaaawn. Well, you can buy a “japanese” car that’s built by Americans here, in America, or you can buy an “american” car that’s built by Mexicans in Mexico.

    I think I’d actually rather have my money go to the middle or lower class workers here in America rather than going to line the pockets of rich fatcat CEO’s running “american” car companies and paying Mexican assembly workers.

    (I mean, if we’re going to engage in rhetoric, might as well live it up).

  • Max Reid

    Mr JamesDavis

    Fusion hybrid gives 41 MPG while Camry hybrid gives 34 MPG. Ford has beaten Toyota in this segment in both technology and monthly sales.

    BTW, now Ford has its own tech and does not buy from Toyota anymore. Read the latest news.

    The cash for clunkers program launched in Japan is only for Japanese vehicles. This is a open violation of WTO rules. Imagine what would have been the reaction if cash for clunkers here would have been given for American vehicles alone.

    Its just that Ford and GM has to launch hybrid version of small hatchback to challenge the Prius.

    As the Japanese Yen increases, their products will soon become expensive.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    –Bill C.,

    Obviously global competition and the global economy elude you. I suppose you want foreign companies in the U.S. to be forced to keep their profits in the U.S. also? Well remember that when the tables are turned and our companies overseas are forced to keep their profits in their host company instead of sending them back here. And we’ll have YOU explain to all the Americans you’ll be putting out of work when you force foreign automakers out of the U.S. why it’s a good thing they are now standing in the unemployment line.

    –”…but GM will have some “mild-hybrid” offerings soon. Don’t those compete with the hybrids Toyota and Honda have out there? lol!! Thanks GM. Thanks for bringing back mild-hybrids. They did SOOOOO well the first time around.”

  • Charles

    DJ;

    Ford buys CVTs from a Japaneses company that is now controlled by Toyota. When Ford developed its hybrid system the company (Aisin) was independent. Ford and Toyota traded patients not cash. Ford is not buying its hybrid system from Toyota now or has Ford done so in the past. Ford is building its own plant for hybrid/EV transmissions to get past supply problems caused by Aisin in the past.

    How does Ford have any impact on the RAV-4 Hybrid. Maybe Toyota does not want to be second in another hybrid market, behind the old Escape Hybrid.

  • Joe

    Global Economy but we want to stay a soverign nation, Bill. Meaning we dont want a global government calling the shots for the U.S. The current President would concur with you Bill and is trying to work with SEIU and Andy Stern to make that happen. But, hopefully the American people will realize we made One Big Arse MistAke.

  • DJ

    Hello Charles…….

    Here is that infro you needed about Ford and who they brought
    there Hybrid Tech from March 7, 2004 – Vol.8 No.50

    FORD BUYS TOYOTA TECHNOLOGY.

    No, Ford, the world’s number three automaker, isn’t giving up on hybrids. It’s only giving up on its own hybrid technology – at least in part.

    Ford has signed a deal to use a portion of Toyota’s hybrid technology under a licensing agreement. Of the more than 370 patents Toyota holds for its hybrid technology, Ford will have access to the blueprints for 20. Ford will be able to copy the electronics and software for engine systems as well as emissions control.

    According to news reports, Toyota makes a small profit on the hybrid vehicles it sells. Honda breaks even on its hybrids and Ford expects to take a loss on its Escape Hybrid due in showrooms by the Fall of 2004. The vehicle is a year behind scheduled introduction.

  • DJ

    Charles for a DISTANCING FORD

    A Toyota-Mazda pairing also highlights a distancing of Mazda from top shareholder Ford Motor Co (F.N), which is among the few automakers today with a proprietary hybrid system after it initially licensed technology from Toyota.

    Ford and Mazda continue to share some vehicle platforms and operate joint factories, but insiders say relations have cooled to match the U.S. automaker’s diminished stake in the Hiroshima-based automaker, from a controlling 33.4 percent
    got to add this in to so here you go

  • sergal

    In continental US set on a lot of brain washed accessories, to keep intellectual property safe is impossible, that why basically seems like Germany up to lead the way in tech including transportation

  • sergal

    In continental US set on a lot of brain washed accessories, to keep intellectual property safe is impossible, that why basically seems like Germany up to lead the way in tech including transportation

  • mick

    I love the Nissan Leaf!

  • TD

    Shines – I want a hybrid mini-van large enough to haul my family around or to take out the seats and fit a full size piece of plywood in the back. I can do that now with my Honda Odyssey, but the gas mileage it gets is atrocious. The mileage is better than an SUV, but still less than 20 MPG in town.

  • Stan Smart

    Toyot’a American offerings are designed/ tested in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have Six plants in the US building cars & trucks (including the Camry hybrid.) Toyota also has test facilities in three states, including California. Do some research before you bash all non-US companies.

    My neighbor who only buys “American” just bought a Chrysler wagon … made in CANADA!!!
    (well, that is North America, after all…)

  • Cindy Carvell

    Toyota has its plants here to suck more money from us.

    Its all part of the plan to take away american money.

    toyota does a good job and brainwashing the american people to give them money.

    And YES they do a great job because people think that they are buying american when they buy a toyota!!!

    COME ON the labor costs are not profit, investment, buying home etc that the big wigs get over seas.

  • wake up

    most ‘american’ car cos. are built in mexico and canada…

    toyota had prius plant 100% built in tupelo ms and got no state support and recession hit..they are trying again…

    because of US pseudopatriotism, most car cos. dont even send their best here or even come here at all like citroen, renault, peugeuot, fiat, except one model next year, and many newer models such as fit hybrid, etc…we are stuck with zero selection and US crap.

    nissan is biggest employer in ms…bmw/kia/hyundai/mercedes etc..all are HUGE employers in the South with no unions…which is what right wing always wants…chrysler and gm particularly ONLY exist because of taxpayer largesse…and being blackmailed against our will to save a defunct, antiquated car co. which has proven time and time again to not be able to compete on their own in the global marketplace….

    the ONLY reason GM sells in China is because Chinese are still po’d at Japanese and internecine warfare and 40 million chinese massacred by Japan in nanking still stings, but which west totally ignores.

    US has always sold old tech to other countries, but as chery byd geely and others ramp up production in china, major players in elec. and warren buffett is huge investor, gm/chrysler can’t compete…

    blame whoever you want, but US is biggest protectionist and closed market in the world….we subsidize our own ag to put others out of business no matter if developing world starves..etc…we are ruthless.

    we forced yen to reevaluate and led japan into 10 plus years lost decade; we keep trying to pressure china and HOPEFULLY they are smarter and tell US to suck it.

    ford is only better because they have finally got on the bandwagen and compete on their own merit, not govt. and taxpayer handout…

  • Strange Pilgrim

    Does anyone know the status of the Chrysler ENVI line? I know it was apparently “killed” a couple of years ago, but my wallet and I are patiently waiting for a range-extended off road capable Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

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  • JOSH BOLEN

    DOES ANYONE CARE THAT I HAVE INVENTED SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE SAID WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO DO. IT IS A SELF CHARGING ELECTRIC CAR THAT NEEDS NO PLUG IN OR SOLAR POWER TO RUN IT IS TOTALLY FOSSIL FREE ENERGY . WITH MY NEW DEVICE ANY ELECTRIC MOTOR COULD RUNS ITSELF LIKE A GENERATOR.I’D ENPLANE IT TO THE FIRST FOUNDER. SO IM LOOKING FOR 1 FOUNDERS TO HELP ME BUILD A FULL SCALE MODEL TO SHOW THE WORLD. I ALREADY HAVE A SMALL SCALE WORKING PROTOTYPE TO SHOW ANY INTERESTED INVESTOR.AND THIS GOES FOR ANY 1 COUNTRY THAT WOULD LIKE TO FUND MY WORK.I HAVE ALREADY SENT OUR COUNTRIES WHITE HOUSE THIS SAME LETTER.I WILL TRY AND SEND IT TO EVERYONE’S COUNTRY IF I CAN.BUT ONLY ALLIES TO THE U.S.A BECAUSE THAT’S THE LAW I THINK.

  • mkass

    Hybrids still make sense up to a point. But the pure electrics I see coming on the market, like the Leaf, don’t. As cute as it is, the Leaf’s lack of range and long recharge time make it useless in my view. The German test of a modded Audi A2 last month that went 375 miles on a charge, now that is getting some where. http://organicconnectmag.com/wp/2010/10/electric-car-drives-375-miles-at-55-mph-recharges-in-6-minutes/

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