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EVWorld says Toyota not about to build plug-in hybrids
Nov 5, 2005 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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We encourage you to forward this email to anyone to whom you "wishfully" told about the possible good news from Toyota. Or point them to:­group/­calcars-news/­message/­193

Following up on the Inside Fuels and Vehicles story,­group/­calcars-news/­message/­188 EV World Editor Bill Moore is the first journalist to have gotten a denial from Toyota (unattributably. Meanwhile, we were unable to get any verification from Pacific Gas & Electric about the very intriguing "utility owns the batteries" approach. We hope at some point to see that internal Toyota presentation, significant in and of itself, that makes a good case for PHEVs' benefits compared to other options.

We were of course hoping to be surprised, but we're not discouraged. We're making progress on many fronts.

So CalCars, California Electric Transportation Association, Electric Power Research Institute, American Public Power Association, Advanced Hybrid Vehicle Development Consortium, Electric Drive Transportation Asosciation, Plug-In Austin, PlugInAmerica, Electric Auto Association, SetAmericaFree, Institute for Analysis of Global Security, Committee on the Present Danger, Securing America's Future Energy, Bluewater Network, Rainforest Action Network, Senators Hatch, Obama, Bennett, Salazar, other Centrist Coalition members, and all the other national and local group and individual supporters of flex-fuel plug-in hybrids will keep doing what we're doing to make it happen -- first from Toyota or another from automaker.

Here's Bill's report from EVWorld: we strongly urge you all to subscribe for a mere $29/year to get full access and support this resource.­view.cfm?section=guestblogs&page=blogentry&authorid=12&blogid=90

My EV World

CONTRIBUTOR: Bill Moore DATE: Saturday, 05 November 2005


Ladies and gentlemen, you are looking at a conundrum wrapped in an enigma packaged in a puzzle.

Is this or isn't this Honda's secret plug-in hybrid demonstrator?

For the uninitiated, the car is the Honda EV+, initially developed for the now moribund, though not entirely dead Zombie... ah, sorry... Zero Emission Mandate in California. It was originally powered only by NiMH batteries and its owners loved it... all 300 or so. Then the program terminated.

Honda took the same car and used it as the test bed for its fuel cell program, re-christening it the FCX. After all, the electric drive was already there. All they had to do was take out the batteries and replace them with a fuel cell stack. It is that car that Jon and Sandy Spallino are leasing in California.

But look carefully, folks. Do you see the tailpipe?

The photo was taken at Los Angeles International airport on September 10, 2005 by an observant passerby and eventually reached the desk of some folks at Southern California Edison, who naturally have a keen interest in electric, plug-in hybrids. Although this is third-hand, allegedly the person who took the photo looked under the car and traced the tailpipe back to a gasoline engine.

The only logical conclusion? It has to be a grid-connectable, plug-in hybrid mule, or at least that was the assumption as the photo raced around the Internet. It was pointed out that if this was just an extremely rare, one-of-a-kind gasoline-engine version of the EV+/FCX, then what was it doing parked in one of LAX's electric cars-only charging spaces? Also, what's with the two (2) fueling doors, one on the front fender and one on the back? Was the one in the back for the gasoline/petrol tank and the one in the front for the electric charging port?

A call to Honda eventually cleared up the matter, but before I give you the resolution, permit me to shift your attention for the moment to another recent email racing around the Internet, one that created similar furor to the Honda EV+ photo.

"Inside Fuels and Vehicles" Editor-In-Chief Peter Rohde recently wrote an article entitled, "Toyota Mulls Dramatic Reversal, May Be Developing Plug-In Hybrids".

He writes, "After years of emphasizing its hybrid vehicles do not have to be plugged in, Toyota appears to be on the verge of a dramatic reversal and may be developing plug-in hybrids, auto industry sources tell Inside Fuels and Vehicles. But they also say the auto giant is still leery of the limitations battery technology places on the endeavor".

Speculation ran rampant that Toyota, finally, was going to come out of the closet and acknowledge what everyone suspected already, that they had been secretly engineering a plug-in hybrid.

And truth be hold -- according to a confidential source at Toyota who is in a position to know -- the company has been doing some "mathematical modeling and investigating some hardware", but stressed that "doesn't mean that a commercial launch is in the picture".

Emphasizing that these are his/her personal views, the source said, "Toyota engineering is always investigating new and emerging technologies to improve our vehicles and to reduce their impact on the earth. Sometime in the future the state of the art of batteries may improve to the point that grid connected approaches make sense from a mass market point of view, personally I don't think that time has come yet."

As for Mr. Rohde's conjectures, my source commented, "As far as I can tell, Peter seems to be doing some wishful thinking or perhaps speculating".

In short, it ain't happening at Toyota, not yet, at least.

But what about the mysterious Honda EV+?

According to Honda, the car was one of their cold climate test vehicles, presumably now being used as a runabout in the Los Angeles area where the company has its North American headquarters in nearby Torrance about 15 miles from the airport. The tailpipe is the exhaust of a fossil fuel heater used to keep the cabin warm in cold weather, since using an electric radiant heater would dramatically shorten the electric car's range.

Okay, I'll buy that... except for two small discrepancies. One, the photographer said the car had a gasoline engine and two, if it's just another EV+, then why isn't it plugged in and being recharged?

And if Toyota isn't developing a plug-in hybrid, why did it buy-out General Motors' 20 percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries?

Sometimes the best keep secrets are hidden in plain sight. Sometimes they aren't. And sometimes, we all find ourselves engaged in wishful wishing.

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