BP Pledges No Increase in Lake Michigan Discharge Limits at Whiting Refinery
Ford to Launch Lower CO2 Models at Frankfurt Show: the ECOnetic Range

Toyota Uncertain of Consumer Demand for Plug-Ins

Bloomberg. Toyota Motor is uncertain of US consumer demand for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), and says that extensive tests are needed to determine demand before it offers PHEVs for the US market.

“There is a consumer market at some price-point for plug- ins,” Bill Reinert, national manager for advanced vehicle technology at Toyota’s U.S. unit, said in an interview yesterday. “We just don’t yet know the size of that market.”

Toyota’s caution reveals a difference in approach between the Japanese automaker, which has sold more than 800,000 Prius hybrids globally since 1997, and General Motors Corp., which wants to build as many of 60,000 Volt plug-in electric cars in the model’s first year, people with knowledge of GM’s plans said earlier this week.

GM also says that it is moving forward with plans to develop a plug-in version of its upcoming two-mode Saturn VUE Green Line.

Toyota plans road tests later this year of modified Priuses with rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries that allow about eight miles of all-electric range.

“I know there’s a lot of enthusiasm right now about plug-ins,” Reinert said in the interview. “I’m a little cautious about how much of that ends up as real consumer behavior.”



Toyota is correct about consumer acceptance!
No one will take the effort to attach and unattach a charging cord to save 60 cents! (8 mile range/40mpg/$3/g)

What we need is 50 mile range. Yeah for three bucks, I would accept the hassle of pull'n cord.


In 1973, while I sat waiting in line on my odd day to by gas, I dreamed to having a diversified supply of transportation energy, so I would not be tortured by the foreign oil suppliers. Would I buy a PHEV with an AER of 20 miles or more? Yes.

And what is all this about price break? The plug in gear costs next to nothing, like a battery charger that sells for less than $50.00. So the issue is the cost of the battery capacity. Take a $23,000 Prius and add $6000 dollars would of gear and capacity, and retail it for less than $30,000 and watch it sell like hotcakes. The higher the price of gas, the higher the sales of hybrids.

Yes, the plugging/unplugging every day would be a hassle, but the solution is a docking port such that when you park and hit a key bob button it simply extends into a self aligning receiver and transfers power. And of course it would automatically disengage as part of the car start sequence. Picture an option, remote charger, for $514.36 ;)


We'll find out the answer soon enough, won't we?

Peter Lewis

Yeah I'd hate to have to plug something in every day when I got home. It's not like I ever have to plug in my cell phone, laptop or ipod....

What I do agree with is that 8 miles is weak, though I'd still buy that over one that I couldn't plug in.


Yeah I'd hate to have to plug something in every day when I got home.

So you're planning on buying the Volt when it comes out?

Roger Pham

Not mentioned in the equation is the cost of battery electricity including the amortized price of the battery plus the cost of grid electricity VS. the cost of chemical fuel. The way battery is priced today, there won't be any money saved. It may look cheaper due to the lower energy cost of grid electricity, but wait until you have to replace the battery pack, oh boy, you'll be in for a sticker shock! If it's a proprietary pack, you won't like the price gouging from the car mfg anymore than we are being subjected to petroleum price gouging now!

NG costs 1/2 of that of gasoline, and biomethane or synthetic renewable methane is comparable to renewable electricity. Millions of cars in the world are now adapted to run on CNG.


Probaby why battery pack leasing is rumored for the Volt.

Then GM handles all service/support for a fixed monthly fee.

>wait until you have to replace the battery pack


I suspect Toyota is following an evolutionary, conservative plan to stretch out the current model Prius to maximize profits. By adding a little bit more battery and plug in capability, they can retain the buyer's interest, move slowly and minimize their mistakes and the law suits.

Many of us who read GCC, want to see long range LiIon electric drive cars in the market place asap. Judging by the history of mass car manufacturing in the U.S., this is still a dream. The best we can hope for right now is that the smaller companies with more limited manufacturing resources will produce a few cars for sale; and, that one of the large car companies will produce a run of electric cars for street testing. I think the route the large guys will follow is to increasing mileage on their current model ICEs, diesel and gasoline, and to provide some hybrid capability along the way, a bit at a time.

Don't forget that the large car companies all communicate with each other and coordinate their actions through their lobbying alliance, The AAM. It's interesting, if you can figure out their plan to watch them carry it out. They all announce grand innovations; but, few of the innovations are available right now, they seem to all be in the future.


It just goes to show that Toyota is no better than any other of the big
manufacturers , the Prius was a fluke, probably never to be repeated!

Roger Pham

A complex machine like an automobile with thousands of parts requires a lot of product development, testing, redesign, and more testing. These testing cycles takes years for a new design or concept, like hybrid. Even then, Toyota has been suffering from a rash of recalls lately, and recall is expensive to the manufacturer and lead to decrease reputation, so, understandably, they have to go slower and be more cautious in their adaptation of new materials or new technologies.
Even Sony suffered from a massive recall of millions of laptop Li-ion batteries that was very expensive for the company.

Sometime, a single wrong move can bankrupt the whole company, or nearly so. Airbus experienced recently a reversal of fortune with respect to Boeing for their misjudgement on the A-380 super jumbo jetliner.


@ Roger,
Thanks for your insight; did 'ya every think to yourself: "I've got the answer to the problem, if they would just listen!" I feel that's the way many of us feel about solving all these complicated chemical mixture problems, i.e., mixing gasoline with air in the ICE, burning coal to fire a genplant, cracking oil and reformulating the residues, pushing PHEVs into the market place, etc. The thing missing in most of our solutions is the win and lose columns and that's the rub as you point out.

But, let's not give in, some day when it gets bad enough, they'll listen!

Once again it is necessary to state the obvious truth, PHEV are DOA and EV are MIA. I was wondering what the ratio of automotive add ons to start remotely cars (so the driver can avoid the bother of sitting in a car that is too hot or cold) to those willing to add a plug to save the environment.


it just goes to show that Toyota is no better than any other of the big
manufacturers , the Prius was a fluke, probably never to be repeated!

What does that mean?


Two comments:

1- It won't take very long for someone to create a plug-in device that attaches once the vehicle pulls inside a person's garage or other defined area.

2- I feel that Toyota has done a superb job of making "slow and steady" progress, and has done so with more than an average amount of transparency. We should applaud their efforts and their success.

Kit P

Both Toyota and Honda have done a superb job of 'green' marketing. There is segment of buyers who buy a product just because the seller says it is 'green' without any supporting info.

So far my skepticism about HEV, PHEV, and EV has been well founded and proponents laking in 'transparency.'


There is segment of buyers who buy a product just because the seller says it is 'green' without any supporting info.

Yeah, they don't mention fuel economy or emissions. It's all a figment of the collective imagination. An Insight actually gets the same mileage as a Suburban.

Great insight there!

Lou Grinzo

Keep in mind the scale involved. Toyota doesn't need to sell 1 million PHEV's the first year--30,000 to 50,000 would be just fine. And I'm very sure they'd have no trouble finding that many customers.

Once those early adopters are on board, they'll do a lot to help educate the next ring of consumers--their co-workers, neighbors, friends, and relatives.

Personally, I think Toyota is being too cautious. I would advise them, given the chance, to bring out the plug-in as a sub-model of the Prius. Give it its own name and badging, etc., so that the people who make that choice are seen to be "greener than thou," which is the phenomenon that helped sell a lot of Priuses in the first place. (I.e. it didn't looks exactly like another model, as the Civic Hybrid does.)


I agree Lou. If they are too cautios GM may trump them.


It may not sell in Peoria, but it's a no-brainer for Califoria.

Any rumours above the GM Volt (also) being delayed to 2012-15?

At that rate, Toyota may have a very mild PHEV-10 Km sometime around 2009-10 followed by mild PHEV-20 Km in 2012-13 and a barely practical PHEV-40 KM around 2015-16.

An automatic plug-in, plug-out gadget will most certainly be available as a low cost ($500) option for those of us who do not want to damage their nails or smooth hands, sore backs, overweight problems etc.

The comments to this entry are closed.