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Toyota Batteries, Honda Doubts, Wired Cover, Lutz in Newsweek, Odyne-Dueco Trucks

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  • Felix Kramer
    Below we include news about Toyota s latest comments, Honda s puzzlement, coverage of PHEVs in Wired Magazine, a strong plug in Newsweek for the Volt and Bob
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2008
      Below we include news about Toyota's latest
      comments, Honda's puzzlement, coverage of PHEVs
      in Wired Magazine, a strong plug in Newsweek for
      the Volt and Bob Lutz, and news of a new PHEV
      "bucket truck" for the electric utility industry.

      previously indicating they could follow GM, i.e.
      wait until 2011-2012) was widely reported in
      year-end stories. But it's unclear whether the
      company is looking beyond its current partnership
      with Panasonic to develop lithium-ion batteries
      using cobalt rather than other safer competing chemistries.

      Toyota muscles in on GM's No. 1 title
      December 27, 2007 By YURI KAGEYAMA Associated Press Business Writer

      NAGOYA, Japan (AP) - Toyota plans to sell 9.85
      million vehicles worldwide in 2008, the company
      said Tuesday, setting an ambitious target despite
      worries about a slowing U.S. car market, as it
      tries to become the world's top automaker.
      Toyota also said it was preparing to start mass
      producing lithium-ion batteries for low-emission vehicles.

      Lithium-ion batteries, already widely used in
      laptops and other gadgets, are smaller yet more
      powerful than the nickel-metal hydride batteries
      used in gas-electric hybrids like the Prius now.

      Lithium-ion batteries will not be used in the
      Prius, on sale for a decade and the most popular
      hybrid on the market, according to Toyota.

      The lithium-ion battery will be used in a plug-in
      hybrid, which would recharge from a regular home
      socket, and travel longer as an electric vehicle
      than the Prius. Toyota has started tests on its
      plug-in hybrid, but has not shown a model using the new battery.

      Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto, who
      oversees technology, said Toyota had developed
      the lithium-ion battery to a level that it is
      almost ready for mass production, although that
      won't start until sometime after next year.

      Panasonic EV Energy Co. Starting Studies Geared
      to Mass Production of Li-Ion Cells for Toyota
      25 December 2007

      Panasonic EV Energy Co., the battery-making joint
      venture between Toyota and Matsushita, has begun
      studies at its Omori factory geared to the mass
      production of lithium-ion batteries, said Toyota
      President Katsuaki Watanabe in his end-of-year
      press conference. The Omori factory currently produces NiMH cells.

      Lithium-ion batteries are better suited than NiMH
      cells for use in plug-in hybrid electric
      vehicles, Watanabe said. Toyota, Matsushita, and
      Panasonic EV are currently conducting development
      on the cells and systems. Toyota’s current
      prototype plug-in hybrid uses a NiMH battery pack. (Earlier post.)

      In the press conference, Watanabe briefly
      described Toyota’s three-pronged approach to
      sustainability: R&D into technology in pursuit of
      sustainable mobility; sustainable manufacturing and social contributions.

      Hybrid technology will play a central role in
      achieving sustainable mobility, according to
      Watanabe, who noted that Toyota has now sold a
      cumulative 1.25 million hybrid vehicles
      worldwide. As previously stated, Toyota is
      targeting annual hybrid sales of 1 million units
      as early as possible in the 2010s, and will have
      a hybrid model in all Toyota series vehicles.

      Watanabe referenced the ongoing testing of the
      plug-in hybrid prototypes in Japan and the US,
      saying that the company is making steady progress
      toward the commercialization of the plug-in vehicles.

      Among the dozen comments to the Green Car
      Congress story, we find several posters pinning
      their hopes on new "carbon nanotube" technology
      still in the lab at MIT, and others asking about
      the long-awaited EEStor "ultimate energy storage"
      solution. They heard that it's has been postponed
      once more. Over the holidays, we received emails
      from many people pointing to new research at
      Stanford University reporting on a paper
      published in Nature, about "silicon nanowire"
      technology that could allow ten times the energy
      storage of today's lithium-ion batteries.

      As always, we'd rather emphasize that today's
      technology is good enough to get started;
      laboratory breakthroughs or commercial
      preannouncements are of little interest to those
      working to promote rapid commercialization based
      to today's "good enough" technology.

      Honda boss sceptical about plug-in hybrids
      Dec 18, 2007 Agence France-Presse

      TOKYO (AFP) — The head of Japanese automaker
      Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday he saw no value in
      developing plug-in hybrid vehicles.

      But Honda president Takeo Fukui said he expects
      competition in conventional petrol-electric
      hybrids to shift into high gear in the coming
      year amid growing demand for fuel-efficient
      vehicles. "Until now, the hybrid vehicle business
      has been about creating impressions and images
      among potential buyers, and not about producing
      profitable vehicles at affordable prices," he
      told the group's annual year-end press conference.

      He acknowledged that rival Toyota Motor Corp. had
      made headway with its popular Prius hybrid, but
      added that the "real competition" begins now.
      Honda will introduce a model in 2009 that will
      only be available as a hybrid, like the Prius, in
      a bid to highlight the technology, Fukui said. A
      new sports hybrid, based on the CR-Z, which was
      introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show, would also be
      launched globally sometime in the next few years, he added.

      But Fukui said he saw no significant value in
      researching plug-in hybrid models, which can be
      recharged by connecting to a power plug. Such
      systems would require significant improvement in
      the capacity, weight, and size of batteries,
      motors, engines, and other components, he said.
      "I do not understand why people see value in
      plug-in (hybrids)," he said. "I cannot understand
      the rational for (developing) plug-ins."

      You know how products seem cheaper when they're
      $9.99 not $10? It turns out that sometimes using
      the larger number pays off. Back in 2005, after
      our first conversion, we were trying to explain
      why we were excited about PHEVs. We started off
      putting headlines on flyers saying "99+MPG" --
      but they didn't resonate. We eventually decided
      to plaster our cars and handouts with the
      "100+MPG" message (along with a footnote when
      practical explaining that this was really
      "100+MPG gasoline plus a penny a mile of
      electricity"). That message turned out to travel
      well. It's been broadly picked up in public
      awareness, and by the Automotive X-Prize, which
      has worked to translate it into meaningful goals
      for vehicles of many fuel types.

      Now the cover of the January 2008 issue of Wired
      Magazine has a photo of a gas can in the desert,
      and the headline, "100 MPG! THE RACE TO BUILD THE
      ULTIATE FUEL-EFFICIENT CAR." You can read the
      eight-page story by Eric Hagerman in print or
      find it at at
      . The story includes the Aptera three-wheel PHEV
      we've covered frequently (by the way, see Popular
      Mechanics' video test-drive of the Aptera at
      ), a small-garage effort called Illuminati Motor
      Works from Illinois converting a Dodge Neon, and
      a discussion of why the Tesla Roadster may not
      meet the X-Prize criteria but Tesla's next-generation vehicle might.

      The media drive for the Chevy Volt keeps getting
      bigger. Three years before the earliest time the
      car will arrive, the company's ads for the Volt
      are everywhere (see the building-sized one at the
      LA Auto Show, with our PHEV parked in front of it
      at http://www.calcars.org/photos-scenic.html ).
      Automotive journalists like to write about
      turnarounds; now GM's Bob Lutz gets the full
      treatment by long-time Newsweek automotive
      reporter Keith Naughton. Below we reprint the
      entertaining two-page story (2/3 of which is one photo).

      NEXT 2008 | BUSINESS: Bob Lutz: The Man Who Revived the Electric Car
      By Keith Naughton | NEWSWEEK Dec. 31, 2007 - Jan. 7, 2008 issue

      When General Motors was fingered as the prime
      suspect in the 2006 documentary "Who Killed the
      Electric Car?" Bob Lutz's inbox filled with hate
      mail. "I hope you rot in hell," read one missive
      to the GM vice chairman, known for his love of
      gas-guzzling sports cars. But now the movie's
      director wants Lutz to star in a possible sequel,
      "Who Saved the Electric Car?" "Now that they've
      done their mea culpa, I'm bullish on GM," says
      director Chris Paine. "I'd like to include Lutz in my next film."

      What explains this turn of events? Lutz--the man
      who brought us the Dodge Viper muscle car and the
      1,000-horsepower Cadillac Sixteen--has become the
      unlikely champion of the Chevy Volt, a 150mpg
      plug-in electric car that GM is fast-tracking for
      production in 2010. GM's car czar now admits he
      was wrong to dismiss the popular Toyota Prius
      hybrid as a PR ploy. Though he still loves fast
      cars (and fast fighter jets, which the ex-Marine
      flyboy pilots on weekends), Lutz, 75, is
      undergoing a green conversion in the twilight of
      his career. "I believe strongly that this country
      has to get off oil," he says, sitting beside a
      massive V-16 engine on display in his office.
      "The electrification of the automobile is inevitable."

      Skeptics initially viewed the Volt as Lutz's own
      PR ploy. But they've come to believe in the
      plug-in, as GM has poured millions into
      developing a lithium-ion battery (like those in
      laptops) that will allow the car to go 40 miles
      on pure electricity before a tiny gasoline motor
      kicks in to recharge the battery. (It also can be
      juiced up by plugging it into a wall outlet for about six hours.)

      But the biggest naysayers Lutz faced were inside
      his own company. After being burned by the
      failure of its EV1 electric car in the '90s (the
      subject of Paine's film), GM was gun-shy about
      plugging in again. When Lutz first proposed
      creating an electric car in 2003, the idea
      "bombed" inside GM, he says. "I got beaten down a
      number of times." After pouring billions into
      engineering futuristic fuel-cell cars (still
      years away from production), GM engineers didn't
      want to switch gears to a plug-in electric, which
      they insisted couldn't be run on lithium-ion
      batteries. The turning point came when tiny Tesla
      Motors, a Silicon Valley start-up, announced in
      2006 that it would produce a speedy electric
      sports car powered by those same laptop
      batteries. "That tore it for me," says Lutz. "If
      some Silicon Valley start-up can solve this
      equation, no one is going to tell me anymore that it's unfeasible."

      So in 2006, Lutz formed a skunkworks team of
      engineers and designers to quickly cobble
      together the Chevy Volt concept car, which became
      the star of the 2007 Detroit Auto Show. And then
      he persuaded the brass to greenlight the Volt for
      production by arguing that they must try to seize
      the green high ground from Toyota, which is
      battling GM for the title of the world's No. 1
      automaker. "We saw Toyota getting highly
      beneficial rub-off from their Prius success,
      which permitted them to cloak themselves in the
      mantle of total greenness," says Lutz. "This was
      starting to hurt because it was one reason for a
      sudden surge in Toyota's market share."

      Now Lutz envisions selling hundreds of thousands
      of Volts a year, probably priced below $30,000.
      Detroit's horsepower jockey insists the Volt will
      be his crowning achievement--and his swan song.
      "This is like JFK's call for the moon shot," he
      says. "I want to stick around to see the Volt
      come to market. Then I'll pack it in around 80."
      And ride off into the sunset on electric power.

      PHEVS. While PG&E and others are planning to get
      PHEVs based on Ford working with integrator
      Eaton, this vehicle appears to be built on an International chassis.
      Odyne Corp. Receives Purchase Order for Twenty
      Five Plug-in Hybrid Aerial Lift Truck Systems

      December 19, 2007 HAUPPAUGE, N.Y.--(BUSINESS
      WIRE)--Odyne Corporation (OTCBB:ODYC), a leading
      developer of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle
      technologies, today announced it had received a
      purchase order for 25 plug-in hybrid electric
      vehicle systems from Dueco, Inc., one of the
      nation's largest utility equipment manufacturers.

      The systems will be installed by Dueco, Inc., to
      power the first plug-in hybrid electric aerial
      lift trucks, "bucket trucks," used by utility
      companies to maintain electric, telephone and cable lines.
      The system will provide the fuel efficiency and
      emission enhancements, typical of a hybrid
      vehicle, while the truck is traveling to and from
      the work site. While at the work site, the Odyne
      Stored Energy System will power all of the
      necessary job-site related equipment directly,
      including the aerial lift device, air
      conditioning and heating, with the engine off.

      Odyne and Dueco estimate that the vehicles will
      reduce fuel consumption by approximately 6-10
      gallons per day, eliminate on-site engine
      emissions, as well as eliminate on-site noise.

      "Since the introduction of the Dueco-Odyne hybrid
      vehicle, the response has been very positive,"
      says Odyne CEO Alan Tannenbaum. "Utility
      companies particularly value the opportunity to
      utilize their own low-cost, off-peak grid power
      to charge the vehicles overnight, while creating
      a safer and healthier environment for their employees and the community."

      "We estimate that nationwide, there are more than
      30,000 aerial lift trucks in operation," explains
      Joe Dalum, Vice President of Dueco, Inc.
      DUECO, the largest privately owned final stage
      manufacturer of Terex Utilities and Hi-Ranger
      products in the country, is a family company with
      over 50 years of experience in the sale and
      service of aerial devices, digger derricks,
      cranes and other equipment. The company also
      provides its customers with conductor handling
      equipment, pullers and tensioners, trailers,
      excavators, loader backhoes, and wheel loaders.
      Committed to customer satisfaction, DUECO is the
      source for electric utility, telecommunications,
      contractor, electric cooperative, municipality,
      railroad and tree care needs in a 14-state region
      that reaches from the Midwest to the East Coast.
      Visit www.Dueco.com for more information.
      Odyne Corporation is a clean technology company
      that develops and manufactures propulsion systems
      for buses, trucks and other hybrid electric
      vehicles. The company has developed a proprietary
      system combining electric power conversion, power
      control and energy storage technology, with
      standard electric motors, storage batteries and
      other off the shelf components to create a lower
      fuel cost, lower operation and maintenance cost,
      substantially lower emission and quieter vehicle.
      Visit www.odyne.com for more information.

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