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Toyota Announces Commercial Demonstration PHEV Fleet

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  • Felix Kramer
    Here s a stunning and very welcome announcement -- an excerpt from the official speech, followed by our comment and then further background. Remarks by
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 13, 2008
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      Here's a stunning and very welcome
      announcement -- an excerpt from the official
      speech, followed by our comment and then further background.

      Remarks by Katsuaki Watanabe and Jim Lentz at
      Toyota International Media Reception, 2008 NAIAS Detroit
      Toyota International Media Reception, 2008 NAIAS
      Detroit Sunday, January 13, 2008, 6:30 P.M.
      Katsuaki Watanabe - TMC President

      By 2010, we will accelerate our global plug-in
      hybrid R&D program. As part of this plan, we will
      deliver a significant fleet of PHEVs powered by
      lithium-ion batteries to a wide variety of global
      commercial customers, with many coming to the U.S.

      To make that happen, we have already started the
      planning phase to expand our Panasonic
      joint-venture battery factory. The expansion will add an assembly line
      to build lithium batteries for automotive applications.


      "We've always thought Toyota could build great
      plug-in hybrids. Now we get to thank the company
      for listening to the fleet buyers, drivers,
      corporate leaders, public officials, electoral
      candidates, policy makers, advocacy groups and
      consumers asking it to build them sooner.
      Toyota's long-awaited announcement that it will
      deploy demonstration fleets brings the plug-in
      campaign much closer to our goal -- "successful
      PHEV commercialization ASAP" -- which will happen
      as car companies race to mass-produce plug-in hybrids.

      We hope Toyota will pick some of the companies,
      government agencies and others that signed up
      through Plug-In Partners' campaign to be among
      the lucky testers of the first fleet cars.
      CalCars and our partners in the PHEV campaign
      will continue to make the case for accelerating
      every aspect of the development cycle. And we'll
      work to bring in public and private incentives
      and regulatory measures to help ensure that the
      interval between the appearance of the first cars
      and the mass-produced PHEVs the public can buy is as short as possible."
      -- Felix Kramer, Founder, The California Cars Initiative (CalCars.org)

      For more details, below, from the Toyota Open
      Road Blog, is Communications VP Irv Miller's
      comment. You can post your comments to this moderated blog (we did).
      Plug-In Hybrid Fleet Coming, Toyota Chief Says. . .
      January 13, 2008 http://blog.lexus.com/2008/01/plug-in-hybrid.html

      Lithium batteries, two new hybrid vehicles and a
      clean-diesel engine also on the way

      Have you been wondering what Toyota's next steps
      might be as it moves forward toward cleaner,more
      efficient cars and trucks? Been wondering, maybe,
      about where we are on plug-in hybrids and
      lithium-ion batteries, among other things?

      You no longer have to wonder. Reiterating
      Toyota's intention to exceed new Corporate
      Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards rather than
      merely meet them, Katsuake Watanabe, president of
      Toyota Motor Corp., spelled out at least part of
      the future Sunday in a stunning series of
      announcements at the North American International
      Automobile Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

      As a part of its commitment to the concept of
      sustainable mobility, Watanabe said that Toyota
      will build and deliver what he called "a
      significant fleet" of Plug-in Hybrid Electric
      Vehicles (PHEVs) that rely on lithium-ion
      batteries to a variety of global fleet customers.

      A large part of that PHEV fleet will be sent to
      fleet customers in the U.S., Watanabe said.
      Toyota will deliver its PHEVs as part of the
      acceleration of its global plug-in hybrid
      research and development program, scheduled to begin late next year.

      Indeed, early iterations of the PHEVs were
      planned for use transporting Toyota executives to
      the show this week, Detroit's notorious January
      weather permitting, and also for limited use by
      select members of the media - again, weather permitting.

      And that wasn't all. As part of its plug-in
      development plan, Watanabe said, Toyota has begun
      the planning phase of an expansion of a battery
      factory it operates as a joint venture with electronics giant Panasonic.

      "The expansion will add an assembly line to build
      our first-generation lithium battery for
      automotive applications," Watanabe said,
      signaling that while others continue to
      bench-test lithium-ion battery prototypes, Toyota
      is ready to go into lithium-ion battery production.

      But that wasn't the end of the announcements from
      Watanabe. He also promised two new hybrid vehicles.

      "Next year, here in Detroit, we will expand our
      conventional hybrid line-up by staging world
      premieres for two all-new dedicated hybrids -
      one for Toyota, and one for Lexus," he said.

      Watanabe noted that Toyota's goal is to sell, by
      2010, a million hybrid vehicles per year. These
      two introductions will help the company meet that goal, he said.

      But there's more to Toyota's vision of
      sustainable mobility than hybrids. That vision
      includes other forms of motive power, including diesel and ethanol.

      With that in mind, Watanabe confirmed a
      clean-diesel V8 engine will be offered in the
      Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV in what he described as the near future.

      Additionally, he said, Toyota's biotechnologists
      are developing cleaner and more efficient methods
      of producing ethanol that can be used as fuel
      from wood-waste materials, rather than from food crops.

      Toyota is pursuing its vision of sustainable
      mobility, Watanabe said, because it is interested
      in doing more than merely meeting the revised
      CAFE standards passed by the Congress, and signed
      into law by President Bush, in December.

      He said, "Last month, the U.S. Congress agreed on
      an energy bill calling for a 35 mpg CAFE by 2020.
      Toyota strongly supports this long-overdue
      legislation. However, we will not wait until the
      deadline to comply. I have issued a challenge to
      our engineers to meet the 35 mpg standard well in
      advance of 2020. I believe that it can be done,
      that it should be done, and that Toyota is capable of doing it."

      January 14, 2008
      Toyota Will Offer a Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle by 2010

      DETROIT — The Toyota Motor Corporation, which
      leads the world’s automakers in sales of
      hybrid-electric vehicles, announced Sunday night
      that it would build its first plug-in hybrid by 2010.

      The move puts Toyota in direct competition with
      General Motors, which has announced plans to sell
      its own plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Chevrolet Volt, sometime around 2010.

      Katsuaki Watanabe, the president of Toyota,
      announced the company’s plans at the Detroit auto
      show as part of a series of environmental steps.

      Mr. Watanabe said Toyota, best known for its
      Prius hybrid car, would develop a fleet of
      plug-in hybrids that run on lithium-ion
      batteries, instead of the nickel-metal hydride
      batteries that power the Prius and other Toyota models.

      Plug-in hybrids differ from the current hybrid
      vehicles in that they can be recharged
      externally, from an ordinary power outlet. In a
      conventional hybrid the battery is recharged from
      power generated by its wheels.

      Mr. Watanabe said the lithium-ion fleet would be
      made available first to Toyota’s commercial
      customers around the world, like government
      agencies and corporations, including some in the
      United States. He did not say when they would be available to consumers.

      Some environmental groups have pushed for plug-in
      hybrids, called PHEVs, or plug-in hybrid electric
      vehicles, as a way to save on gasoline, thus curbing emissions.

      But some experts say plug-ins may not be the
      ultimate answer to cutting pollution, if the
      electricity used to charge them comes from coal-fired power plants.

      That is also a concern to Toyota, which has asked
      researchers to determine not only whether
      consumers would be willing to pay for a plug-in,
      but also the effect it would have on the
      environment, James Lentz, the president of Toyota
      Motor Sales, said in an interview Sunday.

      Nonetheless, G.M., Toyota and Ford Motor, the
      world’s three biggest car companies, all are
      developing plug-in hybrid vehicles. Along with
      the Volt, G.M. has said it plans to produce a
      plug-in version of its Saturn Vue hybrid. Ford
      has not yet given details of its plug-in hybrid,
      which it first discussed in 2006.

      Indeed, Toyota executives initially questioned
      the practicality of plug-in hybrids, saying
      consumers preferred the convenience of hybrids
      that did not have to be recharged. Toyota has
      sold more than one million hybrids worldwide,
      including more than 800,000 Prius cars.

      But the automaker announced last July that it was
      testing plug-in hybrids on public roads in Japan.
      It also is testing them in France, Toyota
      officials said Sunday, and it has given prototype
      versions of plug-in hybrid vehicles to university researchers in California.

      Despite its decision to step up its plug-in
      hybrid development, Toyota is not sure how much
      more consumers will want to pay for it, Mr. Lentz
      said. The Prius starts at $21,100. Some
      after-market companies are charging nearly that
      much to convert Prius models into plug-ins, he said.

      Given that, it is more likely that Toyota would
      offer plug-in technology as an option on the
      Prius, at least in the short term, rather than
      switch all of its hybrids to plug-in models.

      Ultimately, Toyota must determine “do people want
      to plug in their car?” Ms. Chitwood said.

      Initial vehicles will be leased rather than sold,
      which led to controversy in the past (RAV4 EV, GM
      EV1) but has the benefit of removing the issue of
      battery lifetime from consideration by the fleet customer.

      Toyota Plans Plug-In Hybrids for 2010, Matching GM (Update3)
      By Alan Ohnsman, Bloomberg News
      To contact the reporter on this story: Alan
      Ohnsman in Detroit at aohnsman@...
      Last Updated: January 13, 2008 21:09 EST

      Jan. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. plans
      to lease hybrid cars with lithium-ion batteries
      that can recharge at home outlets by 2010,
      matching General Motors Corp.'s target for
      introducing the fuel-efficient vehicles.

      The company will provide a ``significant'' number
      of plug- in hybrids ``to global fleet customers,
      with a large percentage coming to the U.S.,''
      President Katsuaki Watanabe said at the Detroit
      auto show late yesterday, without elaborating.
      The cars will help Toyota meet new U.S. fuel-economy rules early, he said.

      ``We will put the full force of our resources''
      into efforts to develop vehicles that increase
      fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions, Watanabe said.

      Toyota, initially hesitant to embrace plug-ins,
      is now racing GM and other automakers to develop
      the technology. The Toyota City, Japan-based
      company leads in sales of current hybrids, which
      can't recharge at outlets. GM has said it may
      start selling its Volt plug-in hybrid car with
      lithium-ion batteries as early as 2010.

      GM is ``right in that race,'' Chief Executive
      Officer Rick Wagoner, 54, told Bloomberg
      Television in a Jan. 8 interview in Las Vegas,
      where the Detroit-based automaker showed a
      futuristic Cadillac sport-utility vehicle powered
      by hydrogen and lithium- ion batteries. GM and
      Toyota also are competing for the title of
      world's largest automaker, a ranking the U.S.
      automaker has held for 76 years and may have lost
      to the Japanese company in 2007.

      Not Ready

      Toyota officials last year had said that lithium
      batteries for plug-ins weren't ready for consumer
      use and couldn't gauge market demand.

      ``The advanced lithium-ion batteries that the
      Volt would use, batteries suitable for the
      long-term rigors of everyday automotive use,
      don't exist,'' Irv Miller, Toyota's U.S. vice
      president for corporate communications, wrote on
      a company Web site in September.

      Lithium-Ion Challenge

      Lithium-ion batteries have become standard in
      mobile phones and laptop computers. Packs needed
      for Toyota's plug-in hybrids will come from an
      assembly line the automaker will open at its
      Panasonic EV joint venture in Japan, run with
      Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.

      Panasonic EV is the world's largest supplier of
      nickel- metal battery packs for Toyota's Prius,
      the best-selling gasoline-electric vehicle, and other hybrids.

      Automakers have said lithium-ion batteries that
      hold as much as twice the power of nickel-metal
      versions, are needed for autos that run almost
      entirely on electricity, consume little or no
      gasoline and can be recharged at household outlets.

      Lithium-ion batteries aren't currently available
      in large quantities, cost more and are harder to
      produce than nickel- metal batteries, and can burn if they overheat.

      ``The challenge for commercializing lithium
      batteries for plug-in hybrids is manufacturing,''
      said Menahem Anderman, president of industry
      consultant Advanced Automotive Batteries, in Oregon House, California.

      ``You combine Toyota's experience with nickel
      metal, the lithium expertise for Panasonic and
      lithium research from Toyota, definitely they are
      the strongest player,'' said Anderman, whose
      research is bought by all major carmakers and who
      consults with the U.S. and Japanese governments on battery developments.

      Johnson Controls Inc. said today at the Detroit
      show that it may have lithium-ion batteries for
      plug-in hybrids available by 2010 and that that
      it's trying to produce the power sources for
      vehicles such as GM's Volt. Johnson Controls,
      based in Milwaukee, is the world's largest maker of auto batteries.

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