Toyota promises plug-in hybrid by 2010
Jun 11, 2007 - Yuri Kageyama - The Associated
Toyota is introducing a plug-in hybrid with next-generation
lithium-ion batteries in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2010,
under a widespread strategy to be green outlined Wednesday.
The ecological gas-electric vehicles, which can be recharged
from a home electrical outlet, will target leasing customers,
Toyota Motor Corp. said. Such plug-in hybrids can run longer
as an electric vehicle than regular hybrids, and are cleaner.
Lithium-ion batteries, now common in laptops, produce
more power and are smaller than nickel-metal hydride batteries
used in hybrids now.
The joint venture that Toyota set up with Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic products, will begin
producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 and move into full-scale
production in 2010, Toyota said.
Toyota also said it's setting up a battery research department
later this month to develop an innovative battery that can
outperform even that lithium-ion battery.
Japan's top automaker, which leads the industry in gas-electric
hybrids, has said it will rev up hybrid sales to 1 million
a year sometime after 2010.
Hybrids reduce pollution and emissions that are linked
to global warming by switching between a gas engine and
an electric motor to deliver better mileage than comparable
standard cars. Their popularity is growing amid soaring
oil prices and worries about global warming.
"Without focusing on measures to address global warming
and energy issues, there can be no future for our auto business,"
Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters at a Tokyo
He said developing breakthrough technology was critical
to allow Toyota and other automakers to continue to grow
while avoiding damage to the environment.
The Prius, which has been on sale for more than a decade,
recently reached cumulative sales of 1 million vehicles.
When including other Toyota hybrids, the company said it
sold 1.5 million hybrids so far around the world.
Toyota said it is also working on fuel cell vehicles, which
produce no pollution by running on the energy produced when
hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to produce water.
It is also improving mileage of all its models, including
gasoline engine and clean diesel vehicles, it said.
The company plans to set up more environmentally friendly
factories that will produce fewer carbon gas emissions and
develop production techniques that require less energy,
using solar energy and planting trees, Watanabe said.
On Tuesday, Toyota said it will start making the Camry
hybrid in Australia and Thailand as part of its efforts
to step up production of "green" cars around the world.
The two plants were only Toyota's second and third overseas
production point for the Camry hybrid after its Kentucky
plant in the U.S. The only other nation where Toyota manufactures
its hybrids besides Japan is China.
Toyota, close to overtaking General Motors Corp. as the
world's No. 1 automaker, faces competition from rivals,
which are also all working on ecological technology.
For 2010, General Motors is planning a Chevrolet Volt plug-in
electric vehicle, while Nissan Motor Co. is planning electric
vehicles for the U.S. and Japan. Honda Motor Co. is also
developing new hybrid models, targeting sales of 500,000
hybrids a year sometime after 2010.