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Reports: Toyota’s Prius Line to Expand, Cost Differences to Disappear

10 May 2007

Reuters reported that Toyota’s Masatami Takimoto, Executive Vice President in charge of powertrain development, expects profit margins for future Toyota hybrids to be equal to that of conventional vehicles, and that Toyota’s next-generation lithium-ion battery pack, co-developed with Matsushita Electric Industrial, is ready to be used “any time.”

Toyota had previously emphasized a drive to reduce the cost and size of hybrid components by half.

Earlier this week, Automobile Magazine reported that three new hybrid Toyotas—known internally as Prius A, B, and C—are scheduled to debut between 2009 and 2011. The three letters reportedly signify the three vehicle sizes.

The Prius A will be Yaris-sized, the Prius B will be slightly larger than the current Prius, and the Prius C—said to be similar, yet roomier and taller than Toyota’s recent Hybrid X concept car (earlier post)—would be slightly smaller than the current Camry.

At the end of April, Toyota’s worldwide cumulative hybrid sales stood at 998,900. The company has set a sales goal of one million hybrids per year by 2010.

—Jack Rosebro

May 10, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)

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Sounds good.
Nice if they get it cheaper and smaller - a Hy Yaris could be very economical indeed.

Maybe they could do Plug in kit which invalidates (or modifies) your battery warranty - at least let some people try it (easily) while conceding that the battery may not be up to much deep discharging.
They could get some beta testing done in this way for little cost.
They could promise to sell people replacement batteries at a reasonable price.
They could get broader mpg figures from a wide range of people as opposed to fans who are likely to get very good figures as a matter of pride.
This would be on the 3rd generation prius (not the current one).

If this is isn't an opportunity for after market
and OEM battery manufacturers, I don't know what is.
Provide an upgrade to the the Prius A,B,C, with
a Plug in Hybrid option for an all electric range
of 10mi, 20mi, and 40mi, for each of the Prius lineup.
This gives the us the option to kiss the local chump at the
pump, goodbye, forever. A Yaris with local and regional
all EV range of up to 40mi., would be a Li-Ion battery
dream car. Inexpensive and practical for the near term.
"I want my M P E". Thanks Toyota and Synergy Drive!

William, I wouldn't be surprised if Toyota made these models harder to modify. Perhaps I'm being too cynical.

Looks like '09 is gonna be a great year for cars. Honda is going with a FIT sized Hybrid and now Toyota doing a Yaris sized, nice nice.. add clean diesel and I am a happy camper.

The headline should have read "...Margin Differences to Disappear." Although we know that TCO cost for the consumer is already better, and one of these days the manufacturing cost differences will indeed disappear (once cost per watt for the electric drivetrain part matches that for the gasoline engine.)

If Toyota really wanted to serve the public well, as well as they easily could, they would make provisions to neatly support an aftermarket plug-in hybrid upgrade, and honor the warranty reasonably on it. This would allow the necessary battery industry to get moving, with the advantage of many small players being able to shake things up. It would be far harder for the fossils to outmaneuver the battery guys when there are all sorts of them.

Ditto with the solar roof add-on. As solar cells advance, these could become significant. And I would facilitate the car's displays being able to present data from added sensors, cameras etc.

I would remind Toyota that the most popular car model of all time, the VW Bug, got that way because of aftermarket support. And the IBM PC also exploded and launched a revolution, because the manufacturer decided to make it an open architecture (though more open than Toyota might want).

I would similarly urge Toyota to, after making any tweeks that may be in order, warrant the car for use on ethanol or butanol fuel. I know there are many who cannot envision a great alcohol fuels program, the politics surrounding it being as ugly as they are, but since Japan has already decided it's in their future, it seems hard to argue against this simple provision.

Then, a Prius could be sold as a car that truly has a future, whether petroleum supply becomes an indisputable disaster in the next 20 years or not. Even if you only exploit its full potential later. That makes it a more valuable car, which should maintain those margins, nevermind the subsidy disadvantage. You are taking what's better about the Prius, and taking it all the way. It means no more commitment to global warming emissions or petroleum consumption at all, and even less smog. Energy alternatives approaches, combined, to find maximum synergy. Now that's a hybrid.

Oh and, most customers who choose the Prius for conscientious reasons, Toyota's best customers, are going to think about the impact not just during their term of ownership, but over the life of the car. Thus, upgradeability really counts.

I would even go so far as to make provisions for the compression ratio to be increased without too much difficulty, so it could be made even more efficient when high-octane fuels such as E85 can be depended on. That would make E85 give almost as many mpg's as gasoline. When solar-distilled, low-GHG ethanol comes out, the car could really leverage that supply as a petroleum displacer. Would pick up some fans in the rural world and Brazil too. At the same time, the political logic for the US E85 CAFE gimmick might be challenged when Toyota can take you thrice as far on a gallon of E85 as Detroit can, helping close that loophole.

Lithium Cells

Toyota " ready to be used at any time "

General Motors "this technology is not available yet "

Which company is telling a pack of lies ?

A123 "we are supplying lithium-ion cells to many major American and European vehicle manufacturers for deployment in future HEVs and PHEVs"

As much as PHEV upgrades may worry auto makers, I think the company that allows for that may win more sales. Accepting the inevitable may be the way to go. If I could buy an Escape hybrid with built in provisions for PHEV upgrades, either from Ford or after market, I think that it might just affect my purchase decision. If not mine, then the next person to buy the car from me might like that feature.

BTW-

The load profile for the Volt series hybrid could be much different than that of a PHEV Prius. So, they both might be telling the truth.

Could be a different profile, but I doubt it. I've heard that GM is somewhere in the neighborhood of 42% owned by big oil (through various investment funds).

Toyota “ready to be used at anytime”
GM “this technology is not available yet”
Which company is telling the truth?

Answer. They both are. GM is talking about a 40 mile electric range series PHEV, and Toyota isn’t saying anything about a PHEV in this article at all.

A Prius larger than existing one is a good idea. Current Prius is too narrow, so the rear seats are not comfy for 5 passengers. The Camry Hybrid is too heavy and too inefficient.
Another Prius in the lineup the size of the Yaris would be a great idea! We need a 70-mpg vehicle like yesterday, given the prices of gasoline of late.
Hopefully, Lithium batteries will allow more luggage space, because existing hybrids have much smaller trunk space than the non-hybrid version.

We had 70 mpg vehicles in 1999 with PNGV, but they never made those diesel hybrid sedans.

The prius cost too much, Period.

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