August 3, 2007: Source – Bloomberg

Chevy versus Toyota

Last week we heard about Toyota’s road-ready plug-in hybrid. It uses nickel-metal hydride batteries (just like the current Prius, only twice the battery) and can travel around eight miles on a charge without using gasoline.

Last January we heard about GM’s concept plug-in hybrid car, the Chevrolet Volt. But lest you get too excited over Toyota’s efforts and forget about our homegrown plug-in, GM has people talking to reporters about it again.

Here’s what GM’s “people” told Bloomberg:

Toyota Motor Corp.’s plug-in electric car may have less than half the range of a competing vehicle planned by General Motors Corp., people with knowledge of both
companies’ development programs said.

GM wants its Chevrolet Volt to travel at least 40 miles after being charged at a normal household outlet, while the Toyota model may go no more than 20 miles on a single charge, said the people, who asked not to be identified because details of the plans are still secret.

It’s certainly good to see that GM’s taking this project seriously. But just because the company wants its car to travel 40 miles on a charge doesn’t mean it will. By GM’s own admission, lithium-ion battery technology must greatly improve before the Volt can hit the road. And it’s Toyota, not GM, that’s ready for real-world testing.

Perhaps Toyota’s modest eight-mile electric range isn’t so bad after all. Especially if it hits the road first.

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