Who Else Wants in on Plug-Ins? Toyota, That's Who ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Who Else Wants in on Plug-Ins? Toyota, That's Who

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Who Else Wants in on Plug-Ins? Toyota, That's Who

Ford has said they will be testing plug-ins through a partnership with Southern California Edison. GM has the Volt, a plug-in hybrid GM touts as being powered by the electric motor and only assisted by the small gas engine. Google and some electric utilities are pushing for the technology to be developed. Congress is already talking about tax incentives for the development of plug-ins.

And now Toyota has the plug-in based on its Prius, called the Plug-in HV. None of the current models being showcased by the car makers are production ready. All of the hype surrounding plug-ins are based on the presumption that lithium-ion batteries for hybrids will be developed in the next few years.

Toyota was granted permission by the Japanese government to road test a prototype plug-in based on the Prius. They are looking to test eight prototypes of the plug-in hybrid to gather information on real-lifedriving over the next three years.

Since the prototype uses nickel-metal hydride batteries, rather than the Lithium-Ion batteries car makers want to use in plug-in hybrids, the HV can only run eight miles (thirteen km) on one charge. As such, Toyota has already made the point it is not ready for commercialization.

"It's difficult to say when plug-in hybrids could be commercialized, since it would depend largely on advances in battery technology," said Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto, in charge of Toyota's powertrain technology, told a news conference.

Toyota is hoping to road test the HV in Europe and in the US in the near future.

Update: Toyota will be working with researchers from UC Irvine and UC Berkeley as part of the schools' continuing study of sustainable modes of transportation.

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