EV Skeptic To Become Chairman At Toyota

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
ev skeptic to become chairman at toyota

Takeshi Uchiyamada, not really meaning it

Toyota “appears set to choose Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada as its next chairman,” The Nikkei [sub] writes today. Uchiyamada used to be Toyota’s R&D Chief, and is celebrated as the “father of the Prius.” He was made Vice Chairman last year. If confirmed, he would replace the 75 year old Fujio Cho. A Chairman at Toyota has more of an oversight role. The executive power rests at President and CEO Akio Toyoda.

With Uchiyamada, another manager with a long and strong technical background will be at the levers of the company. With Uchiyamada also comes an outspoken critic of too much exuberance about electrification of the automobile. Last year in Tokyo, Uchiyamada said:

“The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.”

With Uchiyamada as the Chairman, expect Toyota to increase its research into hybrids, in order to make them smaller, easier to package, and less expensive to sell. Hybrids still have a single digit market share in the U.S. and play a negligible role in Europe. In the U.S., their tipping point will be reached when the price premium narrows. In Europe, hybrids would have to displace diesels. After diesels reached a similar tipping point in Europe, they now have around 50% market share.

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  • Lynn Ellsworth Lynn Ellsworth on Jan 21, 2013

    I like my 2008 Prius that achieves 45 mpg on interstate trips but I am worried that Toyota has stalled. The new Prius V is a wonderful car with more rear passenger room and it carries about 1/3rd more than the Ford C-Max but it only gets 40 miles per gallon. I want the features of the Prius V but has the Toyota hybrid system come to the end of its engineering ability? I would be willing to pay $50,000 to $60,000 for a Prius V Hybrid that got a real 80 miles per gallon on trips. Is 80 miles per gallon possible for a hybrid? For the extra money I would like to have better seats also.

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    • DenverMike DenverMike on Jan 22, 2013

      @DenverMike "That assumes that dollars are an accurate measure of Value…" No, I totally understand that. But why split hairs about mpg and msrp? just save the darn planet and move on...

  • Lynn Ellsworth Lynn Ellsworth on Jan 21, 2013

    Lorenzo, you are making assumptions which are wrong. I am not looking for a easily broken German car or super performance. The interior of the Prius is fine (except the seats) and the performance is very adequate for my needs. What I want is a useful vehicle that gets leading edge mileage. I have two electric bikes, I study the battery business, I am very aware of the costs of lithium batteries, and I realize an 80 miles per gallon hybrid would probably require many more advanced batteries - hence the expected increase in cost. My question are: is an 80 miles per gallon long distance hybrid possible? If it is why isn't Toyota building them? I, for one, would be willing to pay to be on the leading edge.

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    • Mcs Mcs on Jan 21, 2013

      @E46M3_333 "On the highway at constant speed, the battery in a hybrid isn’t doing anything for you." That's not true. The electric motor kicks in and assists on hills. Probably not a big help out on the prairies, but those of us that live in hilly and mountainous areas definitely see a difference in fuel economy with a hybrid.

  • Lynn Ellsworth Lynn Ellsworth on Jan 21, 2013

    DC Bruce, please drop the tired idea that electric cars, plug ins, and hybrids just transfer pollution from one place to another. My home has solar hot water and will soon have solar electric panels which will provide more electric than I need, Tesla is installing solar charging stations across the US, and at least 4 other companies are also installing solar charges along our interstates. The move to electric cars, trucks, and buses will probably add electricity to our power grid. Buses and in city delivery trucks using the Volt type hybrid system will be charged at night making better use of our present grid which wastes energy at night because the huge power generators can't be simply turned down or off during periods of low demand. How many times do we have to answer that tired and wrong (extra demand on our grid) nonsense before people get the message?

    • Redmondjp Redmondjp on Jan 24, 2013

      Lynn - you are under a serious misconception if you actually believe that our electrical grid "wastes energy at night". The grid itself is simply a means for energy transfer and it has no ability to "waste" energy other than through normal transmission losses (primarily resistive - the aluminum conductors get hot). The balance of supply and demand on the electrical system must be maintained 24/7 otherwise the whole thing would collapse in a matter of minutes (search internet for 1965 NE blackout - just one example of many). Pumped storage, as eloquently described above, is the only current economical large-scale means of storing excess energy (and it's use NE of San Francisco to capture the wind farm energy that is developed in the overnight hours). At night, as is the case at all other times of the day, system operators turn power generation on and off as needed.

  • Phxmotor Phxmotor on Jan 22, 2013

    Lynn... please look up "pumped storage"... its the best battery ever made and has been used in over 130 sites around the world and has been used since the 1890s... andit's been widely used since the 1960's. Because of these big chemical-free "batteries"...No power is waisted from big power plants (nuclear in particular) that can not be turned down at night. Lynn, Ludington Pumped Storage in Michigan is a good example...and there are small mobile versions available as well. Now for a real treat... see MathWorks SAE Paper concerning hydraulic hybrids that store electricity.Just like an ultracap. Interesting stuff... and just what is needed to turn the tipping point for EVs and hybrid electrics. So close... yet so far away when the chemical battery makers refuse to admit their limits. A123 and the Boeing Dreamliner are only the latest examples of the limits of batteries. The Civic Hybrid Battery problems should maybe be added as well. Chemical batteries vs Pumped Storage? That's what it will come down to. But it will be another decade for this question to be answered. Funny thing? It has already been answered by the worlds big electric utilities. A proper tipping technology already exists. MathWorks and others have made it clear...

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 24, 2013

      Pumped storage still doesn't solve the problem of the limited charging rate that batteries can endure. Solving this problem makes long trips in an EV possible, which is better than just adding more batteries.