Issues Challenge to Industry for Five Million in U.S. by End 2016
Toyota, which took the hybrid vehicle mainstream by launching its vaunted Prius more than a decade ago, has proclaimed a “new era” for hybrids as it vowed to expand its global hybrid vehicle presence. The firm has detailed plans for a new hybrid drive, including both better batteries and more efficient engines.
Toyota has sold more than 5 million hybrids worldwide (F&F, April, 27), and has now challenged the industry to reach that mark in the U.S. by the end of 2016.
“I would like to see us – as an industry – accomplish the same thing in the U.S.,” said Toyota Motor Sales senior sales VP Bob Carter said in a release: “5 million hybrids, cumulatively, in the U.S. by close of business 2016.
New Prius to Usher in ‘a New Era’
“That results in 3 billion gallons of gasoline saved, which is more than enough gas for the entire population of the United States to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a Prius,” Carter said. “It’s do-able. And I think we will do it.”
“When the next generation Prius arrives, it will begin a new era for a broad range of Toyota and Lexus vehicles,” Toyota managing officer Satoshi Ogiso said in the hybrid announcement, as “the first to introduce a substantially improved family of hybrid powertrains.”
“Toyota currently accounts for more than 60% of U.S. hybrid sales and 70% of the nearly 3 million hybrids on U.S. roads today,” Carter said.
“Over the past 5 years, the percentage of hybrid sales at Toyota has grown from 10 to 16% of our total sales mix,” he said. “Honda is less than 2% and Ford is less than 3%. And while hybrid as percentage of the total market is just under 4%, we believe that it can… and must grow.”
15 New or Redesigned Toyota Hybrids by the End of 2015
Toyota says that between now and the end of 2015, it plans to introduce 15 new or redesigned hybrid vehicles globally.
“These new hybrid powertrains will deliver significantly improved fuel economy in a more compact package that is lighter in weight and lower in cost,” Toyota says. The firm promises “significant advances in battery, electric motor and gas engine technologies that are part of Toyota’s larger strategy towards the electrification of the automobile through hybrid, battery electric and fuel cell technologies.”
Toyota says it has stepped up both its R&D and production capabilities for nickel metal hydride and lithium ion batteries, “and will use these technologies where appropriate in its expanding focus on electrification of the automobile.” It is also investigating such technologies as solid state and lithium air, “as well as devoting resources focused on chemistries beyond lithium, such as magnesium and other low-valence materials.”
The next Prius, Toyota says, will have small electric motors. Ogiso noted that the current Prius motors have four times the power density of the first model and that “the next will be even higher,” with a more thermally efficient engine as well.
Ogiso said that the next-generation Prius Plug-in is being developed in parallel with the standard model, possibly with more all-electric range.
“We have also heard from owners that they would like a more convenient charging operation,” Ogiso said. “In response, we are developing a new wireless/inductive charging system that produces resonance between an on-floor coil and an onboard coil to transmit power to the battery, providing charging without the fuss of a cable.” Verification work will be conducted in Japan, the U.S. and Europe in 2014.
Work is also progressing on Toyota’s first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, a new mid-size four-door sedan. The concept car is to be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in November.
The vehicle will make its North American debut in January at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Bob Carter will discuss the role of Toyota’s U.S.-based engineering team in its development, as well as preliminary plans for introduction into the U.S. market.
Contact information is only available to premium subscribers. Click here to purchase a subscription.
Source: Toyota with Fleets & Fuels follow-up