// Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?
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  1. #1

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?

    From another list:

    could be great news!


    Peter Rohde
    Chief Editor
    Inside Fuels and Vehicles
    (703) 416-8576

    Toyota Mulls Dramatic Reversal, May Be Developing Plug-In Hybrids

    After years of emphasizing its hybrid vehicles do not have to be plugged in, Toyota appears to be on the verge of a dramatic reversal and may be developing plug-in hybrids, auto industry sources tell Inside Fuels and Vehicles. But they also say the auto giant is still leery of the limitations battery technology places on the endeavor.

    Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are enjoying new life as the poster child of security conscious neo-conservatives, because of their ability to substantially reduce oil demand. Plug-in hybrids have also been embraced by environmental activists, because of the technology’s ability to drastically reduce harmful tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions, particularly if the vehicle is recharged with electric power from renewable sources. Currently, only German automaker DaimlerChrysler is actively developing the technology.

    A recent Toyota presentation at the Tokyo auto show on hybrid vehicles extolling the environmental and practical virtues of plug-in hybrids seems to provide the intellectual underpinnings of the decision. The presentation, obtained by Inside Fuels and Vehicles, concludes that based on five criteria: 1. well-to-wheels carbon dioxide emissions; 2. emissions of criteria pollutants; 3. refueling infrastructure; 4. driving range; and 5. fuel diversity. Under these criteria, plug-in hybrids would perform as well as or better than other motor vehicle technology -- including regular battery-electric hybrids, all-electric vehicles and even fuel cell vehicles (if the hydrogen is obtained from natural gas).

    Ever since Toyota released its first hybrid vehicle, the Prius, it has sought to distance itself from its trying experience with electric vehicles (EVs). They had to be plugged in to recharge the batteries, which could take hours, and outside-of-the-home charging stations were often hard to find. The hybrid uses the internal combustion engine and regenerative braking to recharge the battery pack. In its ads for the Prius and its other hybrids, Toyota emphasizes that they do not need to be plugged in. Some industry experts question whether or not today’s battery technology is adequate. The battery packs in hybrids on the road today operate under a very narrow charge/discharge range. They are never allowed to drain down very far. For plug-in technology to make sense, the charge/discharge range would have to be much wider, shortening battery life.

    Technology challenges notwithstanding, observers, and even industry competitors, see the plug-in hybrid reversal in strategy as a brilliant move on several levels. On the societal level, it appeases environmental activists on one side and neo-conservatives on the other. From a business point of view, it puts domestic automakers and others without hybrids on the road further behind.

    By developing plug-in hybrid technology Toyota, already challenging General Motors to be the world’s largest automaker and the acknowledged leader in hybrid vehicle technology, challenges others in the industry on a whole new level. GM and DaimlerChrysler, who are jointly developing hybrids along with BMW, are at least two generations of hybrid technology behind, though both companies have adopted it in transit buses.

    However, as one competitor said almost with relief, Toyota’s plug-in hybrid initiative would likely deflect government away from another technological mandate, avoiding what they see as the California zero emissions mandate fiasco.

    Plug-in hybrids are a modified version of a traditional hybrid and battery-electric vehicle. Larger battery packs allow for the motorist to plug the vehicle in to recharge it. The vehicle presumably would also have the ability to drive in all-electric mode at the will of the driver, unlike today’s hybrids sold in the U.S. -- in Japan a button allows Prius drivers to operate in all-electric mode for short distances, less than a mile.

    Plug-ins have several advantages, which are why they are touted by neocons and environmental activists alike. They can significantly reduce oil consumption since much of the power would be from battery packs recharged from the electrical grid, which is almost entirely independent of oil. Running on electric power means no harmful tailpipe emissions and no greenhouse gas emissions.

    Ancillary benefits include the ability of the vehicles to serve as backup power for the grid. The power from one vehicle could run several homes. Owners could actually sell the power back to their utility during peak demand to help pay for off peak electricity used to charge the car’s batteries.

    Auto industry sources say Toyota will follow a unique strategy in developing plug-ins. Informed sources say responsibility for the battery component would be born by California utility Pacific Gas and Electric. The sources also see this as a brilliant strategy. As one pointed out, automakers don’t produce gasoline, so a utility taking responsibility for the batteries isn’t too far a stretch.

    Significant issues, including environmental ones, and barriers to success still remain. If the power used to recharge the batteries comes from coal or first generation natural gas-fired plants there is some question if the greenhouse gas and criteria emissions profile would still be better than for other vehicle technologies. The biggest technical barrier experts say is battery life. Another concern is the proclivity of what is currently the most promising battery technology, lithium ion, to overheat.

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  3. #2

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?

    A123 Systems has answered all the shortcomings of current batteries with their nanoscale lithium-ion batteries - 5 times the power density, 10 times the recharge life, and a dramatic decrease in recharge time - 5 minutes to recharge to 90%. They can also be made in almost any shape. Not sure about the cost - but if they are less than 5 times more expensive - their worth it.

  4. #3

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?

    Comparing gasoline supply by oil companies to battery supply by electric utilities is problematic. Gasoline is put into a tank and consumed. The relationship between the internal combustion engine and gasoline is very reliable.

    On the other hand, the battery is not "fuel" in an electric car. The battery is a component of the car. It is covered by the warranty, which is the responsibility of the car company. The battery is a product within the car that consumes electricity.

    Batteries in a hybrid or all-electric car are comparable to a gas TANK and engine, not to gasoline! The equivalent of gasoline in an all-electric car is simply electrons.

  5. #4

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?


    The Wall Street Journal
    By Holman W. Jenkins Jr.
    Nov. 30, 3005

    We at the Toyota Motor Corporation are writing to address certain misconceptions that have arisen about your Toyota Prius model, which we are
    proud to note is driven by many celebrities, including Prince Charles and HBO's Larry David.

    Our pioneering gasoline-electric hybrid, introduced in 1999, has become an object of adoration to the world's enlightened car buyers. Our competitors,
    including America's Big Three, are rushing out hybrid vehicles of their own. Unconfirmed media reports say that we at Toyota intend to double our
    hybrid output to 500,000 vehicles next year. Along with other members of the auto industry, we will be lobbying for tax breaks and HOV privileges
    for hybrid vehicles.

    However, any romance entering its seventh year tends to go stale. Some purchasers have begun to question the practical value of our Hybrid Synergy
    Drive technology. You may be aware that a survey by Consumer Reports found that our vehicles achieve considerably less mileage (some 26 percent less) than the sticker rating implies. This has led to some unflattering media stories.

    Let us assure you that the Prius remains one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the road. Toyota applauds your willingness to spend $9,500 over the
    price of any comparable vehicle for the privilege of saving, at current gasoline prices, approximately $580 a year.

    And should the price of gasoline rise to $5, after 10 years and/or 130,000 miles of driving, you might even come close to breaking even on your investment in hybrid technology.

    We recognize that our customers have an "emotional" relationship with their vehicles. This transcends even the regrettable truth that driving a
    fuel-efficient car does not yield any substantial benefits for society if it doesn't save the owner money.

    Contrary to any loose statements made by our marketing partners in the environmental community and media, petroleum not consumed by Prius owners is not "saved." It does not remain in the ground. It is consumed by someone
    else. Greenhouse pollutants are released. Also, please note that the warranty and owner's manual say nothing about reducing America's dependence
    on foreign oil. This is not an oversight. The Prius is an "oil-dependent" vehicle. It runs on gasoline, supplied by the same world market that fuels
    other vehicles.

    The Toyota Corporation regrets any misunderstanding our marketing may inadvertently have caused (or may cause in the future).

    We share your belief that the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered. Further research by our economists suggests this will happen when
    the price of gasoline rises high enough to make alternative technologies cheaper than gasoline-powered cars.

    We at Toyota want you to know we recognize this effect and have taken steps to compensate with the rest of our vehicle lineup.

    Our 2006 Tundra pickup will be equipped with Toyota's new eight-cylinder engine, making it every bit as much of a gas guzzler as any American
    pickup. We are also redirecting our efforts to use our Hybrid Synergy Drive to increase power output rather than reduce gasoline consumption.

    Take our new hybrid SUV, which produces 38 more horsepower but gets the same mileage as our conventional version. A New York Times reviewer wrote, "One question lingers after driving the 2006 Lexus RX400h: How did it come to this, that Toyota is now selling a hybrid gas-electric vehicle with no
    tangible fuel economy benefits?"

    We hope this corrects any misimpression caused by our latest slogan ("Commute with Nature"). Hybrid technology is not "green" technology. Like
    heated seats or flashy exterior trim, it's merely an expensive option that generates large markups for the Toyota Corporation and its dealers.

    You will share our pride in the latest figures from J.D. Power & Associates, which show that the Prius continues to move off a dealer's lot in just eight days, compared to 36 days for a Honda Civic hybrid. Clearly, our customers are willing to pay handsomely for the privilege of showing themselves behind the wheel of so conspicuously virtuous a vehicle.

    But we are also a far-seeing corporation. We recognize that the Prius's distinctiveness may be a wasting asset for reasons outlined in this letter.
    Other motorists may see the Prius operator and think "sucker." Our lawyers advise us this may affect your car's resale value. Toyota regrets any

    We want you to know that Toyota remains committed to advancing hybrid technology just as long as our customers are willing to make it worth our while. Our esteemed competitor, Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, was recently quoted saying, "There's such a buzz today that no CEO of a car anufacturer dares to say his real opinion of hybrid because he's accused of being retarded."

    Another esteemed competitor, GM, has suggested that hybrid technology is best deployed in city buses, where large fuel consumption and stop-and-go driving might actually make it economically sensible.

    These are just two examples of the short-sighted, stick-in-the-mud marketing instincts of our fellow automakers that are helping to make Toyota the largest car company in the world.

    Yours Truly, the Toyota Corporation.

  6. #5

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?

    Thanks for sharing the parody letter which is really not from Toyota. But it does bring up several truths. Consumer Reports accurately reports the city driving mileage is nearer 36 than 61. This is because at peak performace the ICE gets about 50 miles per gallon, so a non-plugin hybrid is truly not going to exceed that limit. If the motor was larger, say 100 KW versus 50 KW, and the battery was larger, say 30 KWh versus 1.3 KWh, then the city mileage would come much closer to the peak performace mileage of the ICE. And, of course if the Hybrid was a plug in, the city mileage during the typical daily commutes of less than 75 miles round trip, would be powered not by the ICE but by the electric company. And to the extent the power comes from renewables, hydro, and nuclear, our oil dependence would be reduced. Such a PHEV would reduce our gasoline comsuption by about 2/3.
    The next shoe to drop is when in mid January, 2006, A123 Systems actually markets a small form of their battery breakthough. If its energy density is in the 225 Wh/kg range and the cost is less per KWh stored than the NiMh or NiCad batteries, we have the dawning of the age of electric energy mobility.

  7. #6

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?

    The fly in the buttermilk is the current cost on high energy storage batteries. Based on the price of the power tool batteries, both the NiCad and Lithium 28V systems cost between $1.50 and $1.75 per Watt-hour. Using this same cost ($1.50) a KWh of storage would cost $1500 and 30 KWh battery would cost $45,000 dollars. Way too much!!

    Therefore in order for a PHEV to be viable, the cost of storing a Watt-hour of electrical energy needs to be reduced to the range of 60 cents per Watt-hour.

    It looks like the best the new 2008 Prius could offer unless the battery cost drops is a larger electric motor, a smaller and more fuel efficent Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) and a Lithium-Ion battery in the 7 KWh range. At $1.50 per Watt-hour, the battery would cost about $10,000. Do-able but nothing to write home about. This would get you from the house to the freeway on electric and then let you recharge the battery with the engine operating a peak efficiency rather than being used to power the car in stop and go traffic. Perhaps a real 50 MPG city, 60 MPG highway car. But the dent in foreign oil dependence would be small.

  8. #7

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?

    John, I think that for one to truly understand the origin of your possition, one need to see "Who Killed the Electric Car" documentary (soon in theatres).

  9. #8

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?

    I fully support Toyota's Plug-In Hybrid automobile. It should be an Option that can be purchased with any hybrid car/SUV.

    Also, I own a Generation I Prius (rated 50 mpg), and I am currently getting 64 mpg. If you are only getting 45 mpg, drive more gently. It is a different kind of car that needs to be driven a little differently to obtain the greatest benefit.

  10. #9

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?

    The notion that a Prius can only get 35 mpg in the "real" world is FLAT WRONG. I routinely get 50 mpg in my around town driving, a fact I have confirmed over and over both via the car's onboard computer and by a simple calculation every time I fill up. I also get 50 mpg in highway driving as long as I obey the speed limit. If I drive 75 or higher, I get in the forties. Consumer Reports must have been driving the car like a hormoned crazed teenage boy.

    We don't need electric car range batteries on these plug ins. If you can just give the thing a 30-40 mile electric range, you can eliminate 90 percent of the oil consumed by autos in this country. Then we can go to work on the power grid and feeding massive solar power from the southwest into the grid.

    And if you doubt that solar can do the job, see the following link:

  11. #10

    Toyota plug-in hybrid plans?


    I did some research on the plug-in prius do it yourself.

    http://calcars.org/howtoget.html - tells you how to convert your prius into all electric (you'll get 100 miles per gallon) it cost about 10,000.

    second go to toyota and get a prius for 21,000 http://www.toyota.com/prius/

    So with current technology you could be driving an electric car for 31,000 dollars and have very little emissions.

    : Doesn't plugging in the car just trade oil pollution for coal pollution?
    Californians are spoiled by one of the cleanest electrical grids in the U.S., but even where coal supplies much of the electrical power, plugging in vehicles is still a smart environmental solution. One thing that is often overlooked when electric power plant pollution is discussed, is the upstream pollution required to extract oil, transport it, refine it, distribute the gasoline then refuel a vehicle (vapor emissions). Comparing the national electrical grid to the average gallon of refined gasoline shows that the upstream pollution for gasoline production on average is much higher than that of the average electricity source.

    Plug in vehicles charge at night when electricity is cheapest and most widely available on the grid. While electricity may be produced by renewable or non-CO2 producing sources, fossil fuels at present cannot.

    What is the EDrive system for the Toyota Prius and how does it work?
    The EDrive system replaces the existing Prius NiMH battery and Toyota battery control computer with a larger advanced lithium-ion battery and a proprietary battery monitoring and control system developed by EnergyCS. The new system allows the Prius to be charged at home using a standard 110/120V home outlet. With the larger battery, the Prius can run in electric only 'EV' mode at lower speeds or when less power is needed. The result is EV driving and electrically boosted gasoline driving for the first 50 or so miles with a gasoline efficiency of over 100mpg. After the 50 mile 'boosted' range, the vehicle performs just like a standard Prius until it is plugged in again. The battery system is approximately 50% larger than the Toyota NiMH battery and is installed under the rear cargo carpet without limiting access to the spare tire. A small display is mounted on the dashboard.

    What is the driving experience like with an EDrive equipped Prius?
    After the nightly re-charge, the vehicle can be driven in EV mode until the vehicle speed exceeds 34mph. At this point the engine may start in order to warm up the emission control system. After the emission system is warmed up, the Prius will use the gasoline engine whenever higher speeds or power levels are needed, but will always (for the first 50 or so miles) inject electricity to reduce gasoline consumption. It is possible to drive in EV mode at speeds over 34mph and up to 55mph if the power requirements are low enough. The dashboard mounted display will always tell you if you are using gasoline and if not, how far you can press the accelerator without turning the gasoline engine on. In low speed city driving and 55mph freeway driving it is possible to average over 200mpg. More aggressive driving over 65mph will lower the efficiency to 100mpg or less. For example, 75mph freeway driving could result in less than 80mpg. During the 50 mile boost period, the Prius battery display will show 8 green bars (ie full). After the boost mode, the display (and vehicle performance) will be identical to a standard Prius.

    What is the EV driving range?
    If you were to limit your speed to less than 34mph, the gas engine may not come on for over 30 miles.

    How much does it cost to charge the car?
    A full charge could take 9kWh of electricity from the wall socket, but on days when the car is driven less than 50 miles, the electricity needed to re-charge will be less. If your electricity cost $0.10/kWh (about average) then a full charge would be just under a dollar.

    What happens if I forget to plug in the car?
    Then the vehicle will behave exactly like a normal Toyota Prius. (ie ~50mpg)

    Will EDrive work on pre-2004 model Prius vehicles?
    There are no plans at this time to offer EDrive for pre-2004 Prius.

    In the future, plug-in hybrid gasoline cars may give way to plug-in hybrid ethanol or bio-diesel powered cars.


    Thanks. God Bless.


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