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Toyota Ratchets Up Plug-In Talk: Green Car Congress
Apr 24, 2006 (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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This was reported on in several places last week. It shows statements from engineers going in one direction at the same time as the US PR spokespeople for Toyota are continuing to be more dismissive. One of the earlier reports is also included below: see original story for links to Guardian, Auto Express, etc.­2006/­04/­toyota_ratchets.html#more

Toyota Ratchets Up Plug-In Prius Talk 23 April 2006

By Jack Rosebro

In an interview published in the UK's The Guardian, Toyota executive Shinichi Abe has been quoted as confirming that Toyota is working on plug-in hybrids, and as asserting that the next-generation Prius will have an all-electric range of about nine miles, or 14.5 kilometers.

According to The Guardian, Abe, who heads Toyota's hybrid development program, further commented that future Toyota hybrids will be able to operate as mobile generators, and that the company is interested in the addition of electrical charging outlets to traditional gas stations as a step towards a petroleum-free future.

The comments are but the latest in a series of indicators that Toyota is increasingly interested in talking about-and working toward-a plug-in future for its hybrids.

Another UK publication, the Auto Express, recently published an article (earlier post) which included a Toyota engineer's assertion that the next Prius, due in late 2007 as a 2008 model, is being designed with a fuel consumption target of 94 miles per gallon (US), or 2.5 l/100km.

And earlier this year, when asked by Green Car Congress if the hybrid Camry's introduction now paves the way for a redesign of the Prius with even more radical technologies (earlier post), Dave Hermance of Toyota replied, "Absolutely." Hermance made his comment at the third annual SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Hybrid Symposium in San Diego in February.

Last year, Toyota exhibited a concept home in Japan (earlier post) that included a plug-in Prius. Designed in cooperation with Toyota's home-building division, Toyota Home K.K., the Toyota Dream House Papi was touted as an environmentally friendly, energy-saving intelligent house that could interact with other Toyota technologies. The house was designed to be able to use the Prius as its sole energy source for up to 36 hours in emergencies, and to recharge the Prius when needed. At the time, Toyota said that it expected such technologies to be in use by 2010.

In February 2005, Toyota announced plans to lease a modified Prius capable of providing 3 kW at 120 volts to a rural electric cooperative in Oklahoma for field and market testing.­2006/­04/­rumors_rampant_.html Rumors Rampant: Next-Gen 94MPG Prius by 2008? 10 April 2006

The UK's AutoExpress reports that Toyota's fuel economy target for the upcoming next-generation Prius is 40 kilometers/liter (2.5 l/100km, or 94 mpg US), and that the automaker is striving to have the new Prius on the road as early as 2008.

According to a Toyota engineer quoted by the publication, the entire electrical system is being redesigned to improve the fuel economy, and the automaker is working to switch to a lithium-ion battery system from the NiMH pack used in the current Prius.

Part of the impetus for the dramatic improvement in fuel consumption is to position the Prius to compete more effectively against the more fuel-efficient diesels that now dominate the European market, according to the report.

At 94 mpg, the redesigned Prius would approach the lower end of the projected 100-150 mpg fuel consumption of EDrive's aftermarket plug-in Prius. (Earlier post.) The EDrive conversion currently carries a price tag of about $12,000 in addition to the cost of the base Prius.

The AutoExpress report did not indicate if Toyota was working with a plug-in configuration, or if the company is exploring major changes in the combustion engine.

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