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Toyota Plans Major Boost in Lithium Battery Output

Major shift from older tech suggests more emphasis on plug-ins, BEVs.

by on May.20, 2013

Toyota will expand production of lithium-ion batteries. Expect them to show up in the next-gen Prius and possibly other Toyota products.

Toyota is planning a major increase in production of advanced lithium-ion batteries that could be used in its Prius hybrid and perhaps in other plug-ins or battery-electric vehicles, according to reports from Japan.

The six-fold increase in production of LIon batteries comes as a major shift for the maker which had, until recently, focused exclusively on less powerful but cheaper and more time-tested nickel-metal hydride technology.

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The report by Japan’s Nikkei daily business paper says Toyota and battery partner Panasonic will soon be assembling 200,000 lithium-ion batteries annually, largely for use in the popular Prius model. It is unclear if they will be used in just the conventional hybrid version or may also be used for the new Prius plug-in model.


Toyota Formally Launches First Plug-In

Bringing range of hybrids to Europe.

by on Sep.14, 2011

The new Toyota Prius Plug-in on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Underscoring the small but fast-growing presence of hybrids in Europe, Toyota brought its Prius Plug-in to Europe for its official world debut this week.

The plug-in will become part of an expanding “family” of hybrids sharing the Prius name, Didier Leroy, President of Toyota of Europe, told an audience at the Frankfurt Motor Show.  Set to reach the U.S. market, as well, in the coming months, the Prius Plug-in will have a larger battery pack than the conventional Toyota hybrid to permit it to drive longer distances in pure electric vehicle mode.

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Range will still be a modest 14.5 miles in battery mode – and will restrict the vehicle to speeds of around 60 mph.  That’s in sharp contrast to the Chevrolet Volt “extended-range electric vehicle” and its European sibling, the Opel Ampera, which get about 35 miles on a charge and can be used in electric mode at speeds up to around 90 mph.

Toyota, however, plans to sharply undercut the price of the two Detroit offerings.  Though the maker won’t reveal figures until closer to launch industry analysts expect something around or under $30,000 in the States – minus the federal $7,500 tax credit.  That could mean a buyer would get a plug-in from Toyota for about $10,000 less than a Volt.


Toyota Aims to Be First With Plug-in Hybrid

But Prius Plug-in falls short of Chevy Volt performance.

by on Dec.14, 2009

The 2011 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will launch during the first half of 2010 - but only for fleet markets. Retail sales won't begin for at least a year more.

The 2011 Prius Plug-in Hybrid will launch during the first half of 2010 - but only for fleet markets. Retail sales won't begin for another year.

There’s an old adage, in the business world, about “first mover advantage.”  Deliver a breakthrough product and, even if it falls short of what eventually comes to market, you’ve got an edge on the competition.

So, after initially shrugging off plug-in hybrid technology, Toyota announced today that it will have its first model to market by the first half of 2010.  But the first batch of about 600 copies of the 2011 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will be delivered to business and government fleets. The automaker won’t start selling to consumers until sometime in 2012.

So, while the Japanese maker will get bragging rights, the real lead in the retail market will go to General Motors, which plans to deliver its own plug-in model, the Chevrolet Volt, to retail showrooms by late 2010.

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The two makers are taking a very different approach to the underlying technology, as well.  The 2011 Toyota Prius Plug-in starts out with the same basic hardware as the conventional Prius hybrid.  But it gets a larger 5.2 kWh battery and one using newer lithium-ion chemistry, rather than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in the standard Prius.