Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Toyota Plug In

Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe made his company's intentions clear yesterday about PHEVs. Here's the story from the LA Times:

Toyota promises plug-in hybrid vehicle in U.S., Japan and Europe by 2010
By Yuri Kageyama,
The Associated Press
June 11, 2008

TOKYO -- Toyota is introducing a plug-in hybrid with next-generation lithium-ion batteries in the U.S., Japan and Europe by 2010, under a widespread "green" strategy outlined today.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 next year 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. (clip)

"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 hall. (more)

Meanwhile, in the United States, the political environment to support plug ins continues to grow.

"On June 11 and 12, the Brookings Institution and will host a conference entitled “Plug-In Electric Vehicles 2008: What Role for Washington?” The event represents the biggest gathering of national powerbrokers discussing the role of government regarding plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

The list of attendees includes Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.); Representative John Dingell (D-Mich.); New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman; Jon Wellinghoff, commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and CEOs and top executives from Ford, General Motors, Federal Express, and Southern California Edison.

Event Summary

Oil prices are at record highs. The overwhelming dependence of our cars and trucks on oil strains family budgets, threatens our national security and contributes to global warming. Plug-in electric vehicles have the potential to significantly reduce the United States’ dependence on oil.

Yet can this potential be realized? If so, how?

Is there a national interest in putting millions of plug-in vehicles on the road soon? How should policymakers in Washington, D.C., respond?

You can watch the event here.

Clearly, as indicated in this opinion piece from the Orlando Sentinal, the time for Plug-ins is Now.

For all the concern over climate change and heavy reliance on foreign oil, there has been little attention given to a technology that could be the key to help resolve both problems: the electric plug-in automobile.Given the public's desire for cars that cost less to run, Detroit now has a golden opportunity to fill a large potential market for plug-in hybrids -- essentially gasoline-electric cars modified to run in an all-electric mode for all or a large part of a daily commute.

Detroit could not only pre-empt this market in America, but also could establish a true world car that would help relieve all countries of their overwhelming dependence on oil for automotive transportation. (clip)

But real change won't come until car owners recognize the need for it. That time may have arrived now that gasoline prices have hit $4 a gallon or more."

You can help that real change come.

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