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Toyota Announces Plug-In Hybrid Mass Production Plans

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  • Felix Kramer
    Here s CalCars comment: We applaud Toyota s recognition that PHEVs time has come. The technology is good enough to get started and the solution offers a
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 15, 2009
      Here's CalCars' comment: "We applaud Toyota's recognition that PHEVs'
      time has come. The technology is good enough to get started and the
      solution offers a good business case. We hope as this hybrid pioneer
      watches large and small competitors start selling PHEVs a year
      earlier, it will accelerate its timetable and raise production levels."

      (Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting will also be
      viewable at http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html -- there you can
      add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)

      THE PRIUS'S TIMELINES TO TODAY: It's taken a long time. Toyota
      introduced the Prius as the first-mass-production hybrid in Japan in
      1997. It went global in 2001; the second-generation vehicle arrived
      in 2004, the third in 2009, and over two million have been sold.
      Meanwhile CalCars did the first Prius conversion in 2004, sparking
      the growth of an aftermarket industry. Since 2006, a thousand plug-in
      Prius conversions showing what was possible helped build awareness
      and support for PHEVs, and the company's public comments evolved from
      dismissive to open-minded (see
      http://www.calcars.org/carmakers.html#toyotaquotes ).

      Toyota showed its first PHEV prototype in 2007. Until this week, the
      company had announced plans only for fleet leases of 600
      demonstration/test units in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, with
      consumer sales only a possibility. Now it will start selling them in
      2011, with tens of thousands in showrooms in 2012 at a "affordable"
      price tag. Reporters say Toyota has concluded that PHEVs "will become
      the market mainstream."

      NFORMATION SOURCES: Toyota has a new website with basic explanations
      and specifications at http://www.priusphv.com . And see the
      illuminating 20-slide presentation by Toyota Chief Engineer Yoshikazu
      . At http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/12/tmc-phv-20091214.html
      read Green Car Congress's summary and postings. Following are our
      comments based on announced specifications.

      BUSINESS DETAILS: Tanaka's presentation projects "full-scale
      commercialization in two years, on the order of several ten
      thousands, with widely affordable pricing." Toyota EVP Uchiyamada
      indicates (below) that the vehicle could sell for under $33,770. With
      U.S. Recovery Act tax credits of up to $7,500 for the first 200,000
      plug-in vehicle from each manufacturer based on battery capacity; the
      PHV's 5.2 kWh battery pack, from its joint venture Panasonic EV
      Energy, makes it eligible for about $2,500.

      If prices hold, we've been on the right track in saying Toyota might
      sell a plug-in Prius for little more than $3,000 over a non-PHEV
      model. A 3.4 useful-kWh pack at $1,000/useful-kWh would cost $3,400.
      The $1,000 saved by eliminating the NiMH battery could offset a
      similar cost for a charger and a beefed-up DC:DC converter. As those
      battery prices decline with the credits, PHEVs could approach the
      cost of standard hybrids.

      Operating costs for a 30km trip compared to gasoline vehicle, based
      on Japanese petroleum and electric rates, are 58% better when
      charging at peak times and 77% better off-peak.

      TECHNICAL DETAILS: Comparing the vehicle with the 2010 Prius on which
      it's based (specs at http://www.toyota.com/prius-hybrid/specs.html ),
      its weight (3,284 pounds/1,490 kg) increases by 242 pounds/110 kg.
      The engine and motor appear identical, and modified electronics will
      allow more power from the electric motor.

      The PHV uses over 60% of the its 5.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack's
      capacity to get 23.4 km/14.5 miles all-electric driving at speeds up
      to 100 km/62 miles/hour. (For Japanese drivers traveling shorter
      distances, the 20 km "sweet spot" covers 53.7% of daily driving and
      51.2% of weekend driving.) Recharging is 180 minutes at 110-120
      volts, 100 minutes at 220 -- offering good opportunities to double
      the vehicle's effective range for those who can charge mid-day at work.

      Petroleum and greenhouse gas reductions depend on multiple
      assumptions -- we can simply say that using the new JC08 driving
      cycle yields over 100 MPG of gasoline. See
      for a discussion of the PHV's fuel efficiency under different
      conditions; this discussion leaves out consideration of the
      difference between CAFE and sticker numbers.

      FEATURES: The vehicle's new screens' full integration with the
      navigation system and information about the battery will give drivers
      feedback about optimizing fuel economy. The car can be cooled in
      advance while still plugged in for comfort and fuel efficiency.

      LOCATIONS: In addition to its already-announced pilot program in
      Boulder, CO, regional demonstration programs will come to California,
      Washington DC, New York City, Portland, OR and Pittsburgh, PA. No
      word on consumer sales regions.

      CREDITS TO THE CONVERTERS: We were encouraged to hear that "Executive
      Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's R&D chief and father of
      the original Prius, declined to specify a price range but indicated
      it would likely be far cheaper than 3 million yen ($33,770).
      'Nowadays in the United States, they sell after-market kits for about
      1 million yen ($11,260)' to convert a hybrid car into a plug-in, he
      told a presentation on Monday. 'Of course, we would have to do much
      better than that as a mass producer.'"

      Finally carmakers will get a chance to show how much better they can
      do in mass-production -- not just on price, of course, but also on
      quality, integration and optimization, safety, and warranties!

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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