Toyota Plans Two New Hybrids
Toyota announced today that it will show two new hybrids at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. One of the hybrids will be sold as a Toyota and the other as a Lexus. Masatami Takimoto, executive vice president of research and development, said the Toyota hybrid will be “a totally new car.” He added that it would be larger than the Prius.
In addition, the company will show the third-generation Prius. The company did not provide further details, such as timing or cost, related to the new hybrids.
Toyota also announced new 1.3-liter and 2.5-liter gasoline engines using stop-start technology to debut later this year, according to company statement. This would mark Toyota’s first venture into a mild hybrid system. So far, all of Toyota’s hybrids are full hybrids, providing the capability to launch forward without using gasoline. Stop-start hybrids, which don’t burn gas when the vehicle comes to a stop, yield fuel efficiency gains of about 10 percent compared to conventional models.
All of the planned vehicles are expected to use nickel-metal hydride batteries. Panasonic EV Energy Co., which makes Toyota’s hybrid vehicle batteries, will begin making lithium ion batteries in 2009. Those batteries are expected to debut in Toyota’s first plug-in hybrid, which will have limited production for fleets in 2010.
Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said the company is also setting up a battery research department to look for battery technology with even greater capabilities than lithium ion.