Toyota Fights for Leadership in both Plug-in Hybrids and Battery-Electric Cars

Toyota Fights for Leadership in both Plug-in Hybrids and Battery-Electric Cars

Toyota Prius PHV Fights Chevy Volt

By John Addison (7/16/10)

As the world leader in hybrid cars, Toyota is fighting to extend that leadership in both plug-in hybrids and battery electric cars. In plug-in hybrids, GM plans on first mover advantage with the Chevy Volt. In electric cars, the Nissan LEAF has a sizable lead over the Toyota FT-EV. But Toyota has more cars on the road with electric motors, advanced batteries, and electric drive systems than all competitors put together. Toyota does not like second place.

In talking today with Toyota’s Cindy Knight, she assures me that Toyota is on track on all fronts. A number of U.S. fleets are already driving the new 2010 Toyota Prius PHV including the following:

  • San Diego Gas and Electric
  • Zipcar Washington DC
  • Ports of New York and New Jersey
  • Silicon Valley Leadership Group
  • Portland State University
  • Qualcomm
  • Southern California Air Quality Management District

By year-end, 600 Prius PHV will be on the road including 150 in the United States. A number will be in 18 month lease programs. In one prefecture in Japan, the Prius PHV can be rented by the hour. Ten of the Prius PHV will be part of Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity program in Boulder, CO. Boulder residents will participate in an interdisciplinary research project coordinated by the University of Colorado at Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a new joint venture between the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

During the test of 600 plug-in hybrids, Toyota will be receiving extensive wireless data from each vehicle, giving a near realtime profile of electric range, frequency and speed of charge, mileage, use, and reliability of the cars. Aggregated data will be posted on Toyota’s EQS Website

By 2012, Toyota will offer customers with a wide-range of vehicles with fuel efficient drive systems. The Prius will be the best seller, but the 2012 Toyota Prius PHV will be in demand from those who want to be greener with a 14 mile electric range. A compact hybrid will help the more price conscious buyers. The Toyota Camry Hybrid will continue to be offered. Lexus hybrids will continue to deliver at least 35 mpg along with their host of luxury appointments.

Ford will also offer customers a wide-range of fuel efficient and electric cars, starting with a Ford Focus that customers can buy as with ecoboost fuel economy, or as a hybrid, or as a plug-in hybrid, or as a pure battery electric. Ford will expand this range of offerings to other lines in the years past 2012.

Toyota’s Transition to Lithium Batteries

The 2010 Prius PHV has three lithium-ion battery packs, one main and two additional packs (pack one and pack two) with a combined weight of 330 pounds. In contrast, the Prius NiMH battery pack weighs 110 pounds. Each battery pack contains 96 individual 3.6 V cells wired in series with a nominal voltage of 345.6 V DC.

When the PHV is fully charged the two additional battery packs supply power to the electric motor. Pack one and pack two operate in tandem with main battery pack but only one at a time on the individual circuit. When pack one’s battery’s charge is depleted, it will disconnect from the circuit and pack two will engage and supply electrical energy to the drive line. When pack two has depleted it will disconnect from the circuit and the vehicle will operate like a regular hybrid. Pack one and pack two will not reengage in tandem with the main battery pack until the vehicle is plugged in and charged.

The Prius PHV’s larger HV battery assembly requires additional cooling. The vehicle is equipped with three battery-cooling blowers, one for each of the three battery packs. Each battery pack also has an exclusive intake air duct. One cooling blower cools the DC/DC converter.

Like all Toyota hybrids, the lithium-ion batteries are built to last for the life of the vehicle. Toyota is using lithium not NiMH batteries in its Auris hybrid. Mercedes, Nissan, Ford and others have announced hybrid plans using lithium. Will 2012 be the year that Toyota offers a hybrid Prius with lithium batteries? Toyota is not yet ready to say.

Toyota has a number of advanced battery R&D programs with nickel-metal, lithium-ion and “beyond lithium” for a wide variety of applications in conventional hybrids, PHVs, BEVs and FCHVs. Toyota uses Panasonic and Sanyo battery cells. When Panasonic acquired Sanyo, Toyota increased its ownership to over 80 percent in the Panasonic EV Energy Company which makes prismatic module nickel metal hydride and lithium-ion battery packs. Toyota also owns about 2 percent of Tesla, a major Panasonic partner.

Toyota FT-EV an Urban Electric Car

In 2012, city drivers will have fun with the Toyota FT-EV, a pure battery-electric car. Currently Smart car drivers are saving $20 per day squeezing into parking spaces too big for other cars. By 2012 Smart Fortwo and the Smart Electric Drive will have competition from the Toyota FT-EV which is over 4.5 feet shorter than the Prius. For the microcompact space, Smart is introducing an electric version, as is Mitsubishi with the iMiEV. All these cars can squeeze in four people with skinny waists.

Toyota’s FT-EV is an electric vehicle with a 50-mile range and a maximum speed of 70 mph. The lithium battery pack can be charged in 2.5 hours with a 220/240 volt charge and in less time if not fully discharged.

Report: Top Plug-in Hybrid and Electric Car Makers

Toyota and GM Fight for Plug-in Market

Toyota and GM Fight for Plug-in Market

Toyota Pruis Plug-inBy John Addison reporting from the LA Auto Show (12/4/09, updated 12/15/09)

Electric cars and hybrid cars are prominent here at the LA Auto Show. GM highlighted big plans for the Chevy Volt. Toyota, owning some 65 percent of the U.S. hybrid market, displayed the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) along with a growing family  Toyota and Lexus hybrids. The Volt will have triple the electric range of the PHV. Toyota may have a $10,000 price advantage over the Volt.

For extended driving, the Toyota plug-in will normally blend power from the 1.8L gasoline engine and from the 60kW electric motor, just as the Prius does now. The Volt, however, is powered purely with its electric drive system, with a  one liter gasoline engine configured in series to act as a generator. Although series designs have been used for years, GM insists that the Volt is in a unique category – the extended range electric vehicle (EREV). What may be unique is consumer confusion. Clean Fleet Report refers to both the Volt and Prius Plug-in as plug-in hybrids.

In 2010, Toyota will put 500 PHV into fleet tests with car sharing services, corporate and government fleets, and some individuals; 150 will be in the United States. At first glance, these PHV look identical to the 2010 Prius. The Prius Plug-in however use lithium-ion batteries instead of the NiMH batteries of the Prius. The PHV can travel 14 miles in electric range at up to 60 miles per hour. The Prius Plug-in 5kWh Panasonic lithium-ion batteries can be recharged in 1.5 hours with 220 volts.  Three different pack configurations will be tested.

The Volt will have a 40 mile electric range; triple that of the Prius Plug-in. The Volt has a 16kWh battery pack being jointly developed by GM with LG Chem. A 220 volt recharge may take 4 hours. GM 16 kWh hours may add $10,000 to the vehicle cost over Toyota’s 5 kWh hours. Neither automaker has announced sale prices or lease rates.

Both automakers will first emphasize the California market. Most of the nation’s 40,000 electric vehicles are now on the road in California, a state with zero-emission vehicle mandates and greenhouse gas cap-and-trade being implemented.

GM has produced 80 Volt prototypes so far. In late 2010, Chevrolet starts taking orders for the Volt. In his keynote speech, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz estimated 2011 Volt deliveries at 8,000. Early in 2011, 400 Volts will be put into 2 year tests similar to GM’s successful Project Driveway that placed 100 Equinox Fuel Cell vehicles. Four utility partners will deploy 100 Volts each: Southern California Edison, Sacramento Public Utility District, Pacific Gas and Electric, and the Electric Power Research Institute. In parallel with these tests will be dealer sales to consumers and fleets.

These utilities and EPRI have worked closely with automakers to establish the new smart charging standard J1772. They have tested V2G, which will someday allow customers to sell power from the vehicle batteries at peak hours. All utilities have expressed interest in repurposing the lithium batteries in utility applications after 10 years of use in autos.

Plug-in hybrids will more aggressively use batteries than hybrids. Bob Lutz expressed confidence in a 10 year life for Volt batteries; he said the will use an 80/30 charge discharge cycle.

Premium Hybrids

The initial plug-in market share battle will extend up and down the product line of both automakers. Lexus currently offers four hybrid models; two have such good fuel economy that they are part of the Clean Fleet Report Top 10 Hybrids.

In the luxury model, GM may offer the Cadillac Converj plug-in hybrid to leapfrog Lexus. Converj is a concept car with breathtaking design; it has attracted cars at auto shows. The roomy luxury coupe would utilize the Volt drive system.

As competition gets interesting between Toyota and GM, they will have dozens of competitors to worry about. Nissan is actively promoting its battery-electric Leaf. Ford will be offering several models of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid.

What is Next?

Jim Lentz, TMS president, said, “Toyota’s hybrid leadership will continue to expand in the U.S. and around the globe. With 10 new hybrid models between now and 2012 in various global markets, we plan to sell one million gas-electric hybrids per year, worldwide, sometime early in the next decade.”

Toyota has announced that it wants all of its cars to have a hybrid option by 2020. Ford wants the hybrid option for 90 percent of its cars much sooner. Competition will force Toyota to keep moving forward.

Toyota will start volume manufacturing of the Plug-in Prius in 2011. 2012 manufacturing of 20,000 to 30,000 Prius Plug-ins are expected. Toyota has not yet finalized pricing. With only a 5kWh battery, Toyota will significantly under price the Chevy Volt.

In 2012, Toyota will also start selling the less expensive 2-door FT-EV, a pure battery electric vehicle. This little car will probably be similar to the IQ concept car that it has shown for a few years. In the U.S. in 2012 Toyota will face intense EV competition with Nissan, Ford, and dozens of innovative younger companies such as Tesla.

The customer will be the winner in the battle for electric car market share.

Top 10 Electric Car Makers

Toyota Expands Hybrid Car Models

Toyota Expands Hybrid Car Models

Toyota Pruis Plug-inBy John Addison (11/17/09)

Over 1,000,000 Hybrids in U.S.

Toyota Motor Corporation continues to dominate the global market for hybrid cars with its Toyota and Lexus brands. Last March, Toyota became the only car maker to have sold over one million hybrids in the United States. Hybrid sales are pushing 10 percent in Japan and even higher in some U.S. cities.

In our recent survey, Toyota captured four of the Top 10 Hybrids with Best MPG.

Toyota Prius continues to lead hybrid cars in fuel economy and lowest lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. This perennial favorite midsize 4-door hatchback delivers 50 miles per gallon (mpg) and is lowest on the list with 3.7 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent for the EPA annual driving cycle. Yes, 3.7 tons of CO2e is a lot; but many cars, light trucks, and SUVs create three times that emission; to get lower emissions you would need a plug-in car. The hatchback design allows for more cargo, especially if you drop part or all of the 60/40 back bench seat.

Lexus HS 250h is a stylish compact 4-seat sedan that delivers 35 mpg and 5.3 tons of CO2e per year. The Lexus brand lets your friends know that are using less petroleum by choice; you can afford a bit of luxury.

Toyota Camry Hybrid delivers good mileage for a midsize with an automatic transmission. The EPA rating is 5.4 tons of CO2e for the EPA annual driving cycle and a combined 34 mpg.

Lexus RX 450h with more acceleration and room than the others, costs more, starting at over $42,000. For a powerful SUV, it still conserves with 30 mpg and 6.1 tons of CO2e. Haul 5 people and lots of stuff without sacrificing quality and styling in the RX450h. The all wheel drive version has slightly better mileage than the Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD.

Some Toyota offerings are more about performance or image, than about great mileage. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid also sells well with those who want a midsized SUV with either 2WD or 4WD. LS 600h L luxury hybrid sedan, is the world’s first vehicle to feature a full-hybrid V8 powertrain.
What is Next?

Jim Lentz, TMS president, said, “Toyota’s hybrid leadership will continue to expand in the U.S. and around the globe. With 10 new hybrid models between now and 2012 in various global markets, we plan to sell one million gas-electric hybrids per year, worldwide, sometime early in the next decade.”

Toyota has announced that it wants all of its cars to have a hybrid option by 2020. Ford wants the hybrid option for 90 percent of its cars much sooner. Competition will force Toyota to keep moving forward.

The Toyota Auris will be offered next year in Japan with better mileage than the Prius. It is expected to be a compact hybrid.

A Toyota Yaris with better mileage than the larger Prius has been long rumored for the U.S.

We continue to hear rumors of a larger Prius in the form of a crossover, wagon, or SUV. Behind this rumor may be a debate within Toyota to establish Prius as an independent brand, as Toyota Motor Corporation has done with Lexus and Scion.

In demonstrating what might be in our future, LF-Ch concept hybrid vehicle from Lexus offers dramatic style and premium features. If you have multiple drivers in your household, one could drive the LF-Ch for fuel economy while the other could be out playing Grand Prix with this sporty five-door. A drive mode-switch allows the driver to select between four modes: Normal, Eco, EV, plus a Sport mode that amplifies throttle response for the most enthusiastic drivers.

Toyota Plug-in Prius Sales will Jump in 2012

Toyota will start volume manufacturing of the Plug-in Prius in 2012 according to Reuters. 2012 manufacturing of 20,000 to 30,000 Toyota Prius PHEV are expected. Toyota has not yet finalized 2012 pricing. Full featured models may be priced from $40,000 to $50,000 and be competitive with the Chevy Volt in the U.S., Ford’s PHEV offerings, and the Mitsubishi EV in Japan. The added lithium batteries in the plug-in version of the Prius will make it priced much higher than the hybrid Prius.

Toyota is currently leasing 500 plug-in Priuses in Japan and the United States in fleet demonstrations. Smart grid charging will be an important part of U.S. demonstrations. The plug-in is a cautious step forward, with a freeway-speed electric range of only 12 miles before the engine is engaged.

Dr. Andy Frank, the father of plug-in hybrids, had lunch with me this week at GreenBeat 2009. He thinks that Toyota is smart to lower the cost of the Plug-in Prius by only using 5 kWh of lithium batteries, even though it limits the EV range. GM may have an added $10,000 per vehicle cost over Toyota by using 16kWh in the Chevy Volt, although that cost differential is moderated with a $7,500 tax credit for using 16kWh.

Toyota will place ten Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity™ project in Boulder, Colorado. The vehicles will be the focus of an interdisciplinary research project coordinated by the University of Colorado at Boulder Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), a new joint venture between the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The vehicle’s first-generation lithium-ion battery will be built on a dedicated PEVE (Panasonic EV Energy Company, LTD) assembly line. PEVE is a joint-venture in which Toyota owns 60 percent equity. The first generation lithium-ion batteries were developed in-house by Toyota Research and Development, and a dedicated battery development team is already working on the next battery “beyond lithium.”

Panasonic is in the process of buying Sanyo, subject to anti-trust scrutiny, which will extend its market share leadership and add auto OEM customers such as Ford.

In 2012, Toyota will also start selling the less expensive 2-door FT-EV, a pure battery electric car. This little car will probably be similar to the IQ concept car that it has shown for a few years. In the U.S. in 2012 Toyota will face intense EV competition with Nissan, Ford, and dozens of innovative younger companies such as Tesla.

Because hybrids cost more, some take years to make up for the added cost in fuel savings. Some of the performance and luxury models are never bought to save money. Rising oil prices and an improving economy will bring more people to hybrid cars. Toyota is determined to lead. It is auto show season. Look for more announcements in the months ahead.

Toyota Plug-in Prius Sales will Jump in 2012

Toyota Plug-in Prius Sales will Jump in 2012

Toyota Plans 2012 PHEV and EV Leadership

Toyota will start volume manufacturing of the Plug-in Prius in 2012 according to Reuters. 2012 manufacturing of 20,000 to 30,000 Toyota Prius PHEV are expected. Toyota has not yet finalized 2012 pricing. Full featured models may be priced from $40,000 to $50,000 and be competitive with the Chevy Volt in the U.S., Ford’s PHEV offerings, and the Mitsubishi EV in Japan. The added lithium batteries in the plug-in version of the Prius will make it priced much higher than the hybrid Prius.

Toyota is currently leasing 500 plug-in Priuses in Japan and the United States in fleet demonstrations. Not waiting for a commercial plug-in from Toyota, several hundred have converted their Prius to a plug-in using kits such as the A123 Hymotion.

Reuters reports that the Toyota’s plug-ins will be able to run 20-30 km (12.4-18.6 miles) on lithium-ion batteries produced by its joint venture with Panasonic EV Energy Co.

In 2012, Toyota will also start selling the less expensive 2-door FT-EV, a pure battery electric vehicle. In the U.S. in 2012 Toyota will face intense EV competition with Nissan, Ford, and dozens of innovative younger companies such as Tesla.

Top 10 Electric Car Makers