Jan 14, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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 http://pressroom.toyota.com/Releases/View?id=TYT2008011371213
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
By MICHELINE MAYNARD
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.
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 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.