Toyota is worried about the demand for plug-in hybrid cars. Of course, if the price is low enough, anyone would buy a plug-in.
"There is a consumer market at some price-point for plug- ins," Bill Reinert, national manager for advanced vehicle technology at Toyota's U.S. unit, said in an interview yesterday. "We just don't yet know the size of that market."And I have to say, they may be right to be concerned.
How many people would be willing to spend 5, 10, or even 15 thousand dollars more for car, just for the honor of plugging it in every night? What are the cost savings in fuel and emissions? What about those large, expensive batteries?
The market place would be bigger than for electric cars, that's for sure. Limited in range, electric cars can only go so far without be recharged. Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV) are capable of continuing for longer journeys using the gas engine to recharge the battery. That sets their usefulness a lot higher. But still, you would want to find a plug at night, just to take advantage of what you have.
Can you do that when you're visiting with friends or on vacation? What if you leave the car behind for two weeks, what kind of shape will the battery be in when you get back? If you bring your car with you for two weeks and don't plug in your car at all, how will that effect the battery?
What if you live in an apartment building? How are you going to plug in your car?
Will you have to run electricity out to your garage or driveway? If you don't have a garage, what about weather protection for a plug?
If you get home at noon and plug it in then, can you set up a timer to start recharge only at night when the rates go down?
What if you forget to plug it in overnight, how will that effect your performance the next day?
These are practical issues that anyone who considers buying a PHEV will have to face, and as such, are practical considerations the carmakers have to address when trying to guess at how large a PHEV market will be.
To read more about others reaction; GCC and ABG address the same story.