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Toyota Inches Further Toward PHEVs

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  • Felix Kramer
    No new specifics here on performance or timetable, but the topic is moving up higher on the company s agenda. Whereas up until now it was mainly discussed as a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2006
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      No new specifics here on performance or timetable, but the topic is
      moving up higher on the company's agenda. Whereas up until now it was
      mainly discussed as a research project, Toyota's North American
      President is placing greater emphasis on benefits -- the ability of
      PHEVs to "travel greater distances without using its gas engine, it
      will conserve more oil and slice smog and greenhouse gases to nearly
      imperceptible levels" -- with less of a focus on the readiness of
      batteries and on economic "viability".

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB115323638623409864.html
      Toyota Considers Plug-In Hybrids
      Associated Press
      July 18, 2006 3:48 p.m.

      WASHINGTON -- Toyota Motor North America Inc. President Jim Press
      said Tuesday the Japanese auto maker plans to pursue a plug-in hybrid
      vehicle, touting the long-term potential of gas-electric hybrids on
      America's highways.

      "Make no mistake about it, hybrids are the technology of the future
      and they will play a starring role in the automotive industry in the
      21st century," Mr. Press said in a speech at the National Press Club.

      Mr. Press, highlighting the company's work on alternative vehicles,
      said Toyota is also "strongly considering" a program to develop
      flexible-fuel vehicles in the U.S. capable of running on E85, an
      alternative fuel made of 85% ethanol.

      Mr. Press, who recently became the first non-Japanese president of
      Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. subsidiary, said hybrid technology has
      long-term staying power because it can adapt to several alternatives,
      such as clean diesels, biodiesels, ethanol, plug-in hybrids or
      hydrogen fuel cells. The auto maker produces the popular Toyota Prius hybrid.

      The plug-in being pursued by Toyota would be able to "travel greater
      distances without using its gas engine, it will conserve more oil and
      slice smog and greenhouse gases to nearly imperceptible levels."

      Plug-in hybrids use larger battery packs that can be recharged
      through a typical 120-volt outlet, allowing a driver to travel
      locally on battery power before the vehicle switches to the gasoline
      engine. DaimlerChrysler AG has been developing a plug-in hybrid van.

      President Bush has touted the potential of the technology but
      obstacles exist, ranging from making the batteries lighter, less
      expensive and more durable. Some observers have expressed concern
      about the ability of the electrical grid to support the vehicles, but
      supporters say most plug-ins would be recharged at night.

      Amid discussions among General Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., and
      Renault SA on forming an alliance1, Mr. Press said Toyota has had a
      "good working alliance" with GM and shares operations at a Fremont,
      Calif., plant and conducts research on advanced technology.

      "I can't speculate on what will happen if GM and Nissan come
      together, but I think it illustrates just how tough and expensive it
      is to compete on a global basis as well as the consistent need for
      efficiency in our operations," he said.

      Toyota is expected to soon surpass GM as the world's largest auto
      maker by sales volume. Mr. Press said the health of GM and Ford Motor
      Co. was crucial to the auto industry. "I firmly believe that GM and
      Ford will both come back stronger than ever and be very successful.
      And that's important because they are vital to our industry and our
      national economy," he said.
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