Toyota Hybrid Boss' Wife Nixes Plug-in Hybrids

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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toyota hybrid boss wife nixes plug in hybrids

"'People who took interest in electric vehicles are showing interest in plug-in' vehicles, Mr. Asakura said, through a translator. 'But my wife does not accept charging [the vehicle] every day.'" Speaking to The Wall Street Journal in Tokyo, Toyota's hybrid vehicle system-engineering division's project manager poured a torrent of cold water on GM's belief that their plug-in hybrid Hail Mary Volt will be practical, affordable, desirable, reliable or doable. Other than that… Toyota says its exploring plug-in possibilities using its existing nickel-metal hydride battery-powered Prius. An undisclosed number of Prii are headed for two undisclosed California universities for testing. Oh, and Toyota will also look at lithium-ion technology for their Synergy Drive system, in accordance with an undisclosed timetable. In any event (or lack thereof), Toyota's NOT down with GM's plan to build a car that motors around on battery power alone, then switches to internal combustion. If Toyota develops plug-in hybrids, they plan on powering the car on electricity for short bursts, alternating with power from the gasoline engine.

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  • Whatdoiknow1 Whatdoiknow1 on Oct 22, 2007
    People might get down on Mrs. Asakura for this, but legions of apartment dwellers and people who must park their cars on the street will likely agree with her. Plug-in hybrids do them little good. Nevermind just the Hybrids, GM have never understood Car/Urban culture. That is just one of the reason they have a very hard time selling vehicles to over 50% of the population in their home market.
  • SunnyvaleCA SunnyvaleCA on Oct 22, 2007

    Plugging in the vehicle might be impossible for apartment dwellers, but that doesn't really matter. The vehicle doesn't have to be a viable option for 100% of consumers. As for "fast charging": the vehicles can be recharged in as little as 30 seconds! That's 15 seconds to plug in at night and 15 seconds to unplug in the morning--much faster than a gas station refill. :-)

  • F8 F8 on Oct 22, 2007

    Plug-ins would be a niche market anyhow. If there's a viable way to work plug-ins into current society, it would be by offering traditional hybrids with plug-in capabilities, not a standalone plug-in

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Oct 22, 2007

    You can easily make the point that hybrid technology is already marketed towards a niche. However, I see absolutely no validation whatsoever that plug-in hybrids would be unpopular in today's marketplace. In fact it would seem quite the opposite would be true. Consider the following... We already use vehicles for numerous short trips during the weekends. A plug-in would fit quite nicely with that commuting pattern. There are also plenty of folks who travel 20 miles or less to their workplace. Again, a plug-in hybrid would offer minimal cost in that situation. Finally, there is THAT issue of politics. A lot of by-products of oil dependency are starting to take a toll on humanity. War, environmental damage, pseudo-religious nutjobs, and the neverending saber rattling that jacks up oil prices and squeezes the common man's finances are all in play. Personally, I'd rather be supporting Germany at this time of year than the Sultans, Sheiks, Mullahs, and multi-national conglomerates who seem to be the primary beneficiaries of our current oil dependency. If GM is willing to put their resources to the upcoming plug-in Volt, I say they should be commended for it. We little people need all the help we can get. I've also got the feeling that by 2009 we'll have to reconsider our energy policy and start altering our transportation infrastructure in as dramatic a fashion as was done in the 1950's and 1960's. With billions of people clamoring for a little automotive freedom of their own energy alternatives seem to be a necessity and a certainty.