TOYOTA PURSUES PLUG-IN HYBRID DEVELOPMENT
As part of its 'Sustainable Mobility' vision, Toyota is pursuing three goals in the development of advanced-technology vehicles – reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions that negatively affect air quality, and reducing oil consumption through the use diverse energy sources. One of the vehicle technologies that Toyota
is actively developing is the plug-in hybrid.
Toyota has recently begun on-road testing of its first-generation prototype plugin hybrid Prius. These early-development prototypes are being used to gain insight into real-world customer use and acceptance, as well as to measure the well-to-wheel emissions impacts.
Toyota has on-road test programs in the Únited States, Japan, and France. In the Ú.S., Toyota has partnered with the Úniversity of California at Irvine's Advanced Power and Energy Program and the Úniversity of California at Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies.
'Our goal with these early prototype vehicles is to begin the process of understanding customer wants and needs in order to help determine the optimal balance between electric vehicle miles, charge time, battery size and cost,' said Bo Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager.
A conventional gas-electric full hybrid system, such as that found in the Toyota Prius, is powered by both an electric motor and a gas engine. The system operates in pure-electric mode, pure-gas mode, or a combined gas-electric mode, depending on vehicle speed and driving conditions. The electric motor is powered by a dedicated
battery pack that is kept charged by electricity generated by the gas engine and the vehicle's regenerative braking system. The fact that the hybrid battery never needs to be plugged into a recharging station has been one of the primary selling points with mainstream consumers. As of June 2008, cumulative sales of Toyota hybrid vehicles
have surpassed 1.5 million worldwide.
Toyota's plug-in hybrid system is designed to operate in a similar manner to the current Prius, switching from pure-electric mode, to gas-engine mode to a blended gas-electric mode. With the addition of a second nickel-metal hydride battery pack, the plug-in Prius can store greater levels of electricity and its battery is charged by
plugging into a standard household electrical outlet. With more electric power in reserve, the vehicle is capable of operating in pure-electric mode for longer periods of time and at much higher speeds than the current Prius.
By using more electric power than in a conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrids reduce gasoline consumption and tailpipe emissions, as well as noise pollution. Depending on the cost of electricity, overall fuel costs can also be lower, particularly in areas where electricity costs are reduced for off-peak charging.Source - Toyota
Toyota Announces Price Reduction On Prius Hybrid BatteriesWith More Than 600,000 Vehicles on the Road,Toyota Also Looking at HV Battery Remanufacturing
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), Ú.S.A., Inc., announced here today at its Sustainable Mobility Seminar that pricing for first- and second-generation NiMH Prius hybrid vehicle (HV) replacement batteries have been reduced by more than 10 percent. The price of the 2000-2003 first-generation Prius battery has been reduced to $2,299, while the 2004-2008 second-generation Prius battery is reduced to $2,588. Prior to this most recent price reduction, both batteries were priced at $2985.
'We are very pleased with the performance durability of the NiMh battery powering the Prius,' said Gary Smith, TMS corporate manager for Product Quality and Service Support. 'However, there will be rare cases where owners will require a hybrid battery replacement beyond the mileage limits of the 10-year 150,000-mile warranty or 8-year/100,000-mile warranty in non-California compliant states. For the most part, these high-mileage customers have a positive ownership experience and want to keep their vehicle. We've stated from the beginning that battery replacement costs would continue to decline due to technology and volume related advancements, and we believe this will continue.'
Toyota also is studying the business case for remanufacturing Prius HV batteries in North America to further lower replacement costs. As the
popularity of the Prius – and units-in-operation – continues to grow, this venture is seen as a positive step in customer satisfaction with high-mileage owners who tend to keep their vehicles for an extended period of time.
Únique to the industry, Toyota is the only automaker to design, develop and manufacture its own hybrid batteries. Its Panasonic EV Energy (PEVE) Co., Ltd. (60 percent share) joint venture with Matsushita Electric produces all NiMH batteries for all Toyota and Lexus hybrids, as well as batteries for competitive hybrid models.
Last May, PEVE announced plans to establish a second battery production plant in Japan, to meet the growing global demand for HV batteries. Last month, Toyota announced that it would have a total production capacity of one million NiMH hybrid batteries per year by 2010.
Additionally, later this year, PEVE will be the first manufacturer to begin assembly-line production of lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications. These first-generation batteries will be used in a limited-volume placement program for a new lithium-battery powered PHV that will be leased beginning in late 2009 to fleet customers in Japan, Europe and North America.Source - Toyota