Toyota’s recognition that PHEVs’ time has come

Email from CalCars

Here’s CalCars’ comment: “We applaud Toyota’s recognition that PHEVs’
time has come. The technology is good enough to get started and the
solution offers a good business case. We hope as this hybrid pioneer
watches large and small competitors start selling PHEVs a year
earlier, it will accelerate its timetable and raise production levels.”

(Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting will also be
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THE PRIUS’S TIMELINES TO TODAY: It’s taken a long time. Toyota
introduced the Prius as the first-mass-production hybrid in Japan in
1997. It went global in 2001; the second-generation vehicle arrived
in 2004, the third in 2009, and over two million have been sold.
Meanwhile CalCars did the first Prius conversion in 2004, sparking
the growth of an aftermarket industry. Since 2006, a thousand plug-in
Prius conversions showing what was possible helped build awareness
and support for PHEVs, and the company’s public comments evolved from
dismissive to open-minded (see ).

Toyota showed its first PHEV prototype in 2007. Until this week, the
company had announced plans only for fleet leases of 600
demonstration/test units in Japan, the U.S., and Europe, with
consumer sales only a possibility. Now it will start selling them in
2011, with tens of thousands in showrooms in 2012 at a “affordable”
price tag. Reporters say Toyota has concluded that PHEVs “will become
the market mainstream.”

NFORMATION SOURCES: Toyota has a new website with basic explanations
and specifications at . And see the
illuminating 20-slide presentation by Toyota Chief Engineer Yoshikazu
. At
read Green Car Congress’s summary and postings. Following are our
comments based on announced specifications.

BUSINESS DETAILS: Tanaka’s presentation projects “full-scale
commercialization in two years, on the order of several ten
thousands, with widely affordable pricing.” Toyota EVP Uchiyamada
indicates (below) that the vehicle could sell for under $33,770. With
U.S. Recovery Act tax credits of up to $7,500 for the first 200,000
plug-in vehicle from each manufacturer based on battery capacity; the
PHV’s 5.2 kWh battery pack, from its joint venture Panasonic EV
Energy, makes it eligible for about $2,500.

If prices hold, we’ve been on the right track in saying Toyota might
sell a plug-in Prius for little more than $3,000 over a non-PHEV
model. A 3.4 useful-kWh pack at $1,000/useful-kWh would cost $3,400.
The $1,000 saved by eliminating the NiMH battery could offset a
similar cost for a charger and a beefed-up DC:DC converter. As those
battery prices decline with the credits, PHEVs could approach the
cost of standard hybrids.

Operating costs for a 30km trip compared to gasoline vehicle, based
on Japanese petroleum and electric rates, are 58% better when
charging at peak times and 77% better off-peak.

TECHNICAL DETAILS: Comparing the vehicle with the 2010 Prius on which
it’s based (specs at ),
its weight (3,284 pounds/1,490 kg) increases by 242 pounds/110 kg.
The engine and motor appear identical, and modified electronics will
allow more power from the electric motor.

The PHV uses over 60% of the its 5.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack’s
capacity to get 23.4 km/14.5 miles all-electric driving at speeds up
to 100 km/62 miles/hour. (For Japanese drivers traveling shorter
distances, the 20 km “sweet spot” covers 53.7% of daily driving and
51.2% of weekend driving.) Recharging is 180 minutes at 110-120
volts, 100 minutes at 220 — offering good opportunities to double
the vehicle’s effective range for those who can charge mid-day at work.

Petroleum and greenhouse gas reductions depend on multiple
assumptions — we can simply say that using the new JC08 driving
cycle yields over 100 MPG of gasoline. See
for a discussion of the PHV’s fuel efficiency under different
conditions; this discussion leaves out consideration of the
difference between CAFE and sticker numbers.

FEATURES: The vehicle’s new screens’ full integration with the
navigation system and information about the battery will give drivers
feedback about optimizing fuel economy. The car can be cooled in
advance while still plugged in for comfort and fuel efficiency.



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