Friday, March 2, 2007

Plug-in Hybrids in Toyota's Future, Jim Press Tells Reuters; Desires Joint OEM Battery Research

Reuters reports on an interview with Toyota North American President Jim Press that Toyota Motor Corp. is working on developing a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is open to joining with other automakers in battery development.

Echoing its American counterparts Ford and GM, Toyota bemoans the unavailability of batteries which will take their plug-ins half as far as their own electric cars could manage just 5 years ago.
Press added the biggest challenge would be developing the next-generation battery, which Toyota is now working on internally. "We would be quite open to any kind of sharing," Press said of a possible alliance on battery development with other automakers.
A tad unusual, if you think car companies compete. Of course, the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles already taught us how to bring the car companies together, spend tax money and do nothing to foster efficiency other than spur on the Japanese. Who figured out how to do it without threatening their own growth or profits or offering an alternative to oil.

While proposing joining with the Americans to stall or shelve battery development, Press also said Toyota would not be opposed to buying existing plants from other automakers as it expands its capacity in North America.

Press's interview has me seeing lots more Tundras and nary a plug-in. Prove me wrong, Jim.

2 comments:

Charles Whalen said...

Not only unusual, but very much out of character, completely against their long-established, closed, insular, kiretsu culture. Uggh, this is getting downright depressing. First we were told 2008 MY for Toyota's plug-in Prius. Then it got pushed back to 2010 MY. Now it seems to be an open question if and when it will ever happen. It's getting to look like that mechanical rabbit at the dog track that David Friedman described in WKtEC, always just out of reach. But the real irony and indeed hyprocrisy here, which is a dead giveaway that Toyota is being disingenuous, is that if they are really willing to commit the cultural taboo of actually going outside their kiretsu and in-house battery supplier, PEVE, as Press claims they are here, then there's a very easy battery solution: Toyota could simply have GoldPeak produce a 30-40Ah NiMH battery for them, a perfect size for a PHEV. In fact, hey, guess what? -- GoldPeak is already producing a 30Ah NiMH battery right now in large quantity which could be easily scaled up further in volume for Toyota. GoldPeak has got the permissive(grandfathered)Cobasys license that PEVE does not, which permits GoldPeak to produce large-format automotive traction batteries >10Ah, while PEVE is restricted to producing small-format HEV-only NiMH batteries <10Ah. Press obviously made a mistake by saying this much in public, because it is all too easy for us to call his bluff, as I have just explained here, and show him to be insincere. Unlike lithium, NiMH is a well proven automotive traction battery with a lifespan greater than 10 years. No need to dilly-dally around and fret away years trying to discover the magic chemistry to develop a long-lived, durable lithium battery when a NiMH PHEV battery solution already exists ... that is, if Toyota really *is* willing to go outside its kiretsu and in-house battery supplier, PEVE, as Press claims. Hhhmmm, my BS meter alarm bells are starting to ring.

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