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Toyota to Obtain Permission for Public Road Test for Plug-in Prius in Japan

18 July 2007

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Asahi.com’s rendering of the plug-in.

Asahi.com. Toyota Motor Co. will obtain permission from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport by the end of July for the testing of a prototype plug-in Prius on public roads.

Toyota will be the first car maker to obtain permission for a plug-in hybrid test in Japan. After completing the road tests, Toyota will start building a way to market the model by leasing them to public (government and municipal) offices.

According to the report, Toyota is testing a lithium-ion battery pack in the plug-in.

Earlier this year, Nikkei Business speculated that Toyota would introduce the plug-in at the Tokyo Motor Show in November.

(translation by Futoshi SATO)

July 18, 2007 in Japan, Plug-ins | Permalink | Comments (46) | TrackBack (0)

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Will it also fun on gas? Gas is passe.

Wow! Are you kidding!!? This is just the news many of us have been waiting for.

I must admit, when Toyota hinted that they will go back to using NiMH batteries on the 09 Prius model change, I thought Toyota considered PHEVs to be a back burner project.

Anyone know what this permission from Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, is about? Do any other countries have this requirement? If it is like our EPA, that usually isn’t required til later in the development cycle.

Go back to NiMH? I thought they were still NiMH... Whatever. It's great news that this is finally happening. Does anyone know how many kg of NiMH batteries would be needed for a decent PHEV?

Oh, wait. I see that they are testing LiIon for the PHEV. That makes more sense. It seems a little weird that they feel a need to "start building a way to market the model"... Seems to me that a good PHEV would sell itself.

Many of us have waited for Toyota to announce this move; however, because the test mule uses a LiIon battery and Toyota is on record delaying the implementation of LiIon, I suspect it will a while before we see them on our roads.

The good news is they have a PHEV working on the road and that's very encouraging. Maybe I won't need to drive my old Volvo all that much longer since I decided to wait for BEVs. If it's a good car with a good electrical range, I might decide to buy the PHEV and not wait.

GREAT NEWS . THE GREEN WORLD IS WAITING FOR THIS NEWS. WE IN INDIA WOULD LIKE TO LEAP FROM DIESTLY TO THIS PLUG IN HYBRIDS. WE CANT AFFORD THE GAS GUZZLERS.

Toyota needs to convert all of their SUV's and MiniVans to PHEV and Diesel technology. What a winner. 30% greater fuel efficiency with the Diesel engine plus more efficient LI-Ion batterys carrying 10x the power that the old fashioned NiMetal Hydride batteries carry. We can convert in 5 years to a low carbon footprint society if Toyota will have the moral courage to lead the way now. Why wait will the 2009 model year. The time to change is now.

Will it also fun on gas? Gas is passe.

Is that why only one (1) highway-capable electric automobile sold in the US in 2004 and 2005 (to George Clooney, no less)? Because gas is "passe"?

Patience, grasshopper.

Yes! Today is a good day. I like Toyota, like the plug-in, I even like that little graphic that goes with the story. Let's hope some more automakers make surprises just like this pretty soon. Oh, and that one can plug in the new Supra, too!

George K., unlike the US, where indiviuals are free to modify their cars whatever way they like and still legaly operate it on the road (most times), nearly all other countries have very strict regulations concerning technical modifications on public road going vehicles.
I.e. even installing a different looking alloy wheel of the same diameter does need a permit and TUV certificate in germany - and noone's talking about a major change in the drivetrain of the car yet...

For a manufacturer, these rules are even more stringent, and starting the legal procedures to be allowed for a road test, does not necessarily mean that the car is already ready, or that the tests will actually be done... (But deep-pocketed companies are unlikely to turn around at that stage).


Anyway, I'm wondering if this is a one-way AC/DC converter, or a two-way, installed in this PHEV (without, or with V2G capabilities). Also, V2G does not necessarily mean that it can be run as an emergency power generator. Throwing in the few parts necessary for V2G (primarily a frequency follower on the AC side) and also for island operation (w/o external voltage / frequency input to sync the V2G part) would make such a V2G PHEV the perfect, high-power emergency power unit.

As a diesel generator in the 2,5 kW range costs between 1000 and 7000 USD (depending on features), there could be huge demand for a car offering these features, plus transportation, plus very cheap refilling (with electricity) plus the potential to make money (V2G peak power sell-back).

The only problem I see for a business plan for such a Prius is - how can I build them fast enough...

Ok GM and Ford, the race is on. Are you fossils or evolutionary winners? The Germans seem to have wandered off down a diesel dead end. Where are Nissan and Mazda anyway? They seem to have disappeared. Will somebody please wake up Chrysler!

(insert shameless drooling sounds here)

Go Toyota! I've been dreaming of a manufacturer-backed PHEV ever since I bought my Prius in 2004. That dream only intensified in 2005 when I converted my house to solar power. Right now I'm donating about $200/year of free electricity to my local power company.

Like the poster named "Lad", I would consider retiring my second car early, to upgrade to a PHEV. Given that my second car is a pretty good one -- a Honda Civic with 113,000 miles on it, which gets 30 MPG -- that's saying a lot.

I read the Japanese article mentioned above and my interpretation is slightly different.

The Ministry of Land and Transport permission is a formality. It just means registration of a type of vehicle that is not currently resistered for use. Toyota will have no problems there.

Leasing to government offices in Aichi Prefecture (where Toyota HQ is based) is to gather performance data and check safety of the vehicle as a first step towards becoming the first commercial PHEV producer in the world.

The article also quoted the President of Toyota (Mr Katsuaki Watanabe)saying that among the many low pollution engine developments, such as clean diesel etc, the Hybrid is Toyota's core technology. Their strategy is to maintain Toyota's leading position in Hybrid technology with the PHEV which has an even lower environmental impact than existing hybrids.

Sounds to me like they will be giving it a serious push.

"the first commercial PHEV producer in the world."

Both Renault (Electroad) and Audi (Duo) had PHEVs on public roads in Europe many years ago. Sadly, the battery tech wasn't quite ready for the big time back then, so they didn't make commercial success. Things are different now though....

This may kill the Volt project before it gets started. If Toyota is good, there will be an all electric range of 40 or so miles as well.

Instead of making a lot of fanfare and a big announcement way before they are ready with a real car for testing, they simply announce they are going to be testing, and soon.

In some ways, Toyota has sort of a dilemma, which may explain why they are not making a big deal about the plug in. They don't want to steal the thunder from their next upgrade (2009?) of the Prius. If people get the idea that the plug in will become a production car pretty soon they may delay further their new purchase or upgrade of their existing Prius.

To solve this problem, perhaps they should make the next upgrade to the Prius plug in ready to make it easy to get a Toyota provided upgraded of their next Prius. That seems like the best of both worlds.

Will the 2009 third generation Prius III have a PHEV option?

If so, will this first generation Toyota PHEV use NiMH or Li-Ion batteries?

Will the energy storage unit (s) have various options, i.e. size + technology?

Will super-caps (+ AWD) be offered to recuperate more decelleration energy and increase the electric ONLY range, specially in city driving.

There is so much room for improvement with PHEVs that it may take a few years before all the possible options become available.

Fortunately, Toyota is there to make it happen. I hope to buy a Toyota first generation PHEV in late 2009.

Why can't you guys wait on Ford's PHEV? According to
the last article I read Ford/Edison will have a test PHEV ready in 2009 and will test for 6 to 10 years.

If Toyota still has questions about Li-ion why don't they just use a bigger NIMH? The way I see it a 5 seat Prius is overkill. They could offer a 4 seat version with the centre rear seat replaced by a battery box + work/coffee table. NiMH isn't a toxic battery tech so there's no fear of putting it in with the passengers, is it?

I'm also waiting for a PHEV. I want to be able to run this vehicle on energy produced locally. So that means solar/wind electricity (which I can make in my back yard) and bio fuels (which I can buy from my local farm cooperative). Until then, I'm driving my 1990 Honda rather than invest in more dead end products.

Toyota is well positioned to provide the car I'm looking for but another car company could take some risk and get there also.

I'd rather see Japan get rich than continue to support the middle east radicals.

The main dilemma is to use safer lower energy density NiMH or more dangerous higher density LiIon. The various LiIon battery recalls and fires that were taking place on notebook computers are making car makers such as Toyota leery of LiIon.

Prius problem is that the current NiMH is too small for PHEV. You can charge it but you cannot store much energy. Thus they would have to make it bigger, add more cells, to be able to charge any sort of non-trivial amount of electricity. The additional space required would significantly reduce interior/cargo space. You don't loose the 5th seat only, but also a good chunk of cargo space as well.

Today Prius is marketed as a mainstream family car with a comprable space as conventional cars. Once you enlarge the NiMH battery pack that is no longer possible. Their marketing strategy changes and they risk loosing sales.

Therefore change to LiIon is inevitable. Except Toyota doesn't want to be the 1st one to do it. Heck none of them want to be the 1st one. They are all afreaid of big dires/explosion, even possible deaths and lawsuits.

LiIon is known for a limited current draw range (NiMH is much more tolerant of very high current draw - they may fail but not blow up). LiIon makers claim that they have solved that problem and now offer high current draw versions. However car makers are still afraid.

So it all comes down to how good the latest LiIon battery for high current draw are. Toyota doesn't want to do it, but risks loosing the Prius brand lead. GM Volt could quickly take the hybrid crown from Toyota if they are successful.

So here we are. GM is pushing forward full spead ahead with LiIon because they have nothing to loose. Toyota has the lead so they have a lot to loose. Thus they are making a reluctant modifications to Prius to satisfy clients while keeping most of the original design intact.

I predict that the new Prius will STILL have a limited electricity capacity and will have a POOR pure electric range. Meanwhile GM Volt and whatever Ford comes up with will have a longer pure electric range, but of course will be brand new designs with the usual reliability ant other issues.

Bottom line is it will take a long time. I am sure gasoline prices will double by the time we have a decent range PHEV with a decent reliability/operability.

Regarding the V2G 'reverse' application for this (or any PHEV): Assuming there is a power outage, where does the 60Hz 'pilot' frequency come from in order to sync up the PHEV's 'feeding' the grid? Does the local utility provide this over a separate comm. line?
Are there any utility specs. out there that discuss this and the other safety aspects of V2G? How would the load be regulated?
John L: Why are you 'donating' $200/yr. of power to the local utility? Don't you have a net metering setup at your residence?

I pretty much agree with what Ed is saying here. I already own an 06 Prius and it is a great car to drive. When it came time to replace my old 240D that ran on B100 the Prius was an easy choice to make. The low emissions and high mileage were 2 big reasons for this choice.

After driving the Prius for a few months I built an Electric motorcycle. See www.zevutah.com for details.

My latest project has been to add solar panels to the workshop roof, so that I can charge the bike with clean electricity. That is now project is now working great.

My wifes car is a 10 year old Subaru with 120k miles on it. The replacement for that car will be either a PHEV or a BEV like the Chevy Volt.

Hey Toyota and Chevy are you listening ?????

Toyota saying "start building a way to market the model" could have something to do with the fact that Toyota spent millions telling the public "you never have to plug it (the Prius) in". They need to reverse that marketing slogan before heading in the opposite direction.

Permission to test this vehicle on the street may be typical in Japan. But remember that plug-in hybrids in large numbers will significantly affect the amount of road taxes collected. Because the current Prius gets 100% of its energy from gasoline, it does not step on the toes of tax collectors. This unresolved road tax situation has been cited as one possible reason plug-in hybrids have been so slow and development.

I do believe this is good news, but until Toyota develops a series hybrid I still wouldn't be interested. Too much complexity in a parallel system.

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