When Engineers Speak, I Listen ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: When Engineers Speak, I Listen

Monday, August 13, 2007

When Engineers Speak, I Listen

A lot of times, when you deal with press releases, reporters and CEOs talking about an issue, you never know quite what to believe. But when an engineer speaks, I tend to listen.

And according to one Justin Ward, Toyota engineer, Lithium-Ion batteries are not ready for production in vehicles.

"It's pretty staggering the benefits and the advantages that have been shown through litho-technology, but they haven't proven that it's ready for the automotive market yet. They are still in that developmental, demonstration phase," said Justin Ward.

This is on the heels of a report by the Wall Street Journal detailing how Toyota is being delayed a year or two by the lack of lithium-ion batteries for their next generation hybrids. But, at the same time, you can't surf for hybrid cars the past few days without seeing how GM is partnering with A123 Systems to develop lithium-ion battery packs for their hybrids, to be available by 2010.

So which is it?

Is Toyota, the most successful in hybrid technology for the past decade, about to lose its edge? Will GM debut its Saturn Vue Plug-In and the Chevy Volt before Toyota can come out with its next generation Prius? Will those advanced hybrids then proceed to blow up or catch on fire (the danger most quoted by engineers when it comes to large battery packs)?

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