Watanabe: No Toyota Diesel Hybrid For You!
Attention car companies who desperately want to beat Toyota at the green car game: start building diesel hybrids now. Accordingt to Automotive News [sub], Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe says his company has no plans to build a hybrid diesel car. Toyota leads worldwide sales of gas – electric hybrids, plans to offer diesels on the Tundra/Sequoia platform and sells a truck in Japan with a hybrid diesel powertrain. So what's the issue? Unlike other companies we could mention (cough, GM, cough), Toyota doesn't see the value in rushing prohibitively expensive green technology to market. "A diesel hybrid car would cost more than a gasoline hybrid," explains Watanabe, reminding the greenrush crowd that the car business is still a business. So what of diesel hybrid concepts from Mercedes and Volkswagen? We can only assume that consumers have long become accustomed to overpaying for German offerings.
I agree with Watanabe-san. No need for diesel hybrids but Toyota has Subaru's flat 4 diesel in their hip pocket if for some crazy reason diesel hybrids become in demand. In theory, diesel hybrid sounds like a great idea but I think in practical practice it will not be.
For once somebody make sense.
Think VERY small diesel engine, with an electric motor to assist at slow speeds. Like the technically mid-sized Prius with a 1.5L gas engine, a diesel electric hybrid with a 1.0L 3-cyl diesel / electric motor would be great in a Passat sized car. The combined torque of both engines will be great for get up and go, in town you would run on mostly electric power, and the diesel will be great on the highway where you need very little power. Hmm, what's not to like? Of course it is expensive, but isn't all new technology?
I wouldn't pay too much attention to Watanabe-san. It is generally regarded that he is a transition CEO because Akio Toyoda was considered too young at the time*. Also, Fujio Cho (the man who was a key architect behind Toyota, as they are now, is still serving as president and still pulling a few strings. One of the reasons Toyota bought a stake in Isuzu was to develop its diesel expertise and possibly build a diesel hybrid**. * = http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/business/worldbusiness/22toyotaside.html?n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/M/Maynard,%20Micheline&pagewanted=all = http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061114/FREE/61113017/1024/LATESTNEWS