Toyota has some big plans for their hybrids in the coming years. With plans in hand to build batteries for their next generation Prius in North America, Toyota hopes to cut cost by another 50%, leaving them with a profit margin similar to what they make on the Corolla.
"We reduced costs of hybrid systems for the current Prius by 50 percent from the first generation," Vice Chairman Kazuo Okamoto said on Friday at a presentation to financial analysts and reporters in New York.
"For the next-generation Prius, we will be able to cut costs by another half, so I think we've been able to ensure profitability will be similar to regular vehicles, such as the Corolla," Okamoto said.
Toyota wants to build batteries here because they plan on building the Prius in Mississippi by 2010. Building the parts (like the expensive battery packs) overseas and then shipping them over to a plant here would likely be expensive, which would ruin the whole point of building the Prius here in the first place.
Okamoto said that Toyota's plug-in Prius prototypes have shown an initial all-electric cruising range of 13 kilometers (8 miles). To improve that range requires larger batteries but that means less cargo space and higher prices, he said.
"What's the best combination between space usage, cruising range and the price involved? Finding out that optimal point is key," Okamoto said.