Feb. 23, 2007: Business Week—Toyota’s Bid for a Better Battery
Summary: Is lithium-ion energy storage ready for production automotive use? It will be soon, according to Toyota CEO Katsuaki Watanabe.
“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. Lighter and more powerful than the current nickel metal hydride packs, the new batteries will help make for more fuel-efficient hybrids. “We will change the battery from nickel hydride to the lithium battery,” the CEO said during a rare one-on-one interview at the company’s headquarters in Toyota City. Toyota officials say it’s the first time Watanabe had confirmed the change of cells (see BusinessWeek.com, 2/22/07,’Talking with Toyota’s Top Man‘).
“It’s not just the batteries that will be better. The rest of Toyota’s next-generation hybrid systems will also be a big step up from what’s on the road today. “We are now aiming at reducing, by half, both size and cost of the third-generation hybrid system,” says Watanabe. That should go some way to bringing the price of hybrids closer to regular gasoline cars.”
Halving the weight and expense of the hybrid synergy drive will help mainstream hybrid technology, increasing fuel economy, and reducing emissions. But neither the article nor the interview bring up Toyota’s thoughts on plug-in hybrids. This seems odd, given that plug-in conversions using lithium-ion battery packs are on the road now.