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Toyota FT-Bh concept
Toyota looks to diversify its Prius hybrid

We reported late last month that Toyota will delay the launch of its next generation Prius by six months. The company is reportedly using that extra time to boost the fuel efficiency of its popular hybrid by at least 10 percent (the current model is rated at 51 mpg city, 48 mpg highway).
Koei Saga, Toyota’s senior managing officer in charge of powertrain development, has also provided a few more details on the next generation Prius in an interview with Automotive News. According to Saga, the all-new Prius will be available with both nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The NiMH batteries will be available to help the Prius maintain a reasonably low cost of entry, while the more expensive Li-ion batteries will be provided as an option for customers that want increased performance and range.
It should also be noted that Li-ion batteries are not only more powerful, but also lighter and more compact. The current generation Prius v is only available with NiMH batteries in the North American market. However, the Japanese and European market vehicle uses a lighter, more compact Li-ion battery pack that allows enough space to offer a third row of seating.

The Prius v is available with a third-row in the Japanese market due to the use of a more compact, lithium-ion battery pack.
When it comes to providing an AWD option for the next generation Prius, Saga was receptive, stating, "I think we will possibly do it."
The AWD option could be a boon for people that live in mountainous regions of the United States (who seemingly tend to stick gravitate towards Subarus) and for those that want added reassurance when driving in inclement weather.

Source: Automotive News

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By Spuke on 7/14/2014 2:04:21 PM , Rating: 2
AWD and Li-on batts sound pretty interesting to me.

By sorry dog on 7/14/2014 4:00:51 PM , Rating: 2
I bad the car is uglier than a train wreck.

By Shig on 7/14/2014 6:09:09 PM , Rating: 1
Possibly a dual motor system, one for each axle.

By Milliamp on 7/15/2014 3:23:11 PM , Rating: 1
That's actually not a terrible way to do AWD because all wheels are connected to a regenerative braking system (that is essentially an electric motor running in reverse to produce electricity). Even sending a few HP to the other wheels that have traction would make a huge difference in getting unstuck.

By Mitch101 on 7/14/2014 9:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think it looks that bad but will reserve that till I see it from all angles. Certainly an improvement over the existing Prius.

By Milliamp on 7/15/2014 3:31:24 AM , Rating: 3
What many people don't realize is that 2WD with an open differential and no limited slip essentially becomes 1WD after one of the wheels loses traction because it prefers the "path of least resistance".

What this means is traction in a 2WD vehicle could be greatly improved cheaply with a limited slip system without going to a full AWD platform.

My 4WD (4Runner) for instance uses a locking differential that splits the power evenly 50/50 to the front and back but the front and back differentials are mechanically just an open differential. To deal with this if one of the wheels loses traction and starts spinning it applies breaks to the wheel forcing some of the torque to wheels with traction. It's a cheap but effective method of limited slip that I wish more companies would use for their 2WD platforms.

Such a system would have saved me from having to dig out my 2wd car a handful of times and try to wedge my snow scraper under the spinning wheel for traction to get out of my driveway.

longer range li-ion?
By Souka on 7/14/2014 6:08:51 PM , Rating: 2
instead of 3rd row seating in Prius-v w/Li-Ion batteries, how about filling space from the NiMH batts with Li-Ion?

I'm sure the range boost would be most appreciated.

RE: longer range li-ion?
By Nightbird321 on 7/14/2014 8:26:26 PM , Rating: 2
Need a new Prius S for Sedan ~30K and plug-in with 30 mile range and we're golden.

By mikegrok on 7/15/2014 6:01:44 PM , Rating: 2
Lithium batteries get hot both during the charge cycle and the discharge cycle. 40% of the energy that goes into a lithium battery does not leave the battery as electricity. This effect can be lessened by slowing down the rate of discharge and charge. I think that the above numbers are for a 3 hour charge rate and 3 hour discharge rate.

NIMH batteries are much more efficient, so make much more sense for regenerative breaking, or to cache energy from a much larger lithium battery pack.

The NIMH battery pack in the 2006 Prius could be fully charged or discharged in 2 minutes.


By Nortel on 7/14/14, Rating: -1
RE: sustainability?
By josh_b on 7/14/2014 11:22:02 AM , Rating: 3
Which batteries - the NiMH or Lithium-Ion. With Lithium Ion cells it greatly depends on the chemistry... Lithium Titanate batteries can last many thousands of cycles and are likely to outlive the car for example.

Most battery packs in hybrids and EVs also baby the cells to a greater degree than is done during lab or laptop use as well. Furthermore many packs are overbuilt to allow degradation with no perceptible loss in functionality to a user. Take the Volt for instance... I believe it only exposes about 10kW of its 16.5kW pack, ergo unless the cells are defective the owners will very likely never need a replacement pack.

RE: sustainability?
By Nortel on 7/14/14, Rating: -1
RE: sustainability?
By Nightbird321 on 7/14/2014 11:41:17 AM , Rating: 2
You're asking for batteries with no degradation then... it would be awesome but you gotta build with what is available and this means additional capacity to hide the degradation.

RE: sustainability?
By extide on 7/14/2014 11:42:12 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, smart alec. Since you seem to know everything, how should they be doing it, then?

RE: sustainability?
By Milliamp on 7/15/2014 3:19:46 AM , Rating: 2
This is the first time I have seen this claim and I highly doubt its accuracy but it would make sense to have the battery provide 16.5 kWh while it can and if it degrades to 10 kWh provide 10 kWh.

You might as well get the most out of the whole battery.

RE: sustainability?
By NellyFromMA on 7/14/2014 11:48:45 AM , Rating: 3
It's only a "design failure", or rather, an engineering failure, if you only covet engineering successes that are heroic with regard to design ideals without regard for real world costs for materials, which is quintessential in engineering if you want to keep your job.

It isn't an engineering failure; it's a diversification of its present portfolio by using cheaper and more accessible parts to achieve a somewhat lesser result for a lesser cost, both to manufacturers (mostly) as well as consumers (if they want to actually sell it).

Yes, the Li-Ion would be better if all you care about is "the best" choice. However, best is subjective and someone might think a more economical option might be best for their wallet today.

Your cited example wasn't a failure either. It propelled the market for SSDs that we see today. It was an exploitation of available materials. That's actually a full-picture engineering success.

RE: sustainability?
By bsd228 on 7/14/2014 6:54:58 PM , Rating: 3
Carrying around a 65% larger battery then 'accessible' for degradation is a design failure. The same logic was applied to MLC SSD's where they were overbuilt to mask dying blocks.

overprovisioning is still used, and typically the most consistent performance is obtained if you increase that OP to 25%.

It's hardly a design flaw, it's an optimization choice.

RE: sustainability?
By snhoj on 7/14/2014 9:02:15 PM , Rating: 2
Ah no. The volt maintains its battery between 30% charged and 80% charged because this part of the cycle results in the slowest degradation of the battery. Its for longevity not reserve capacity.

RE: sustainability?
By Samus on 7/14/2014 11:39:50 AM , Rating: 3
Modern lithium polymer batteries used in automotive applications, such as the Tesla LiFE PO4 chemistry, are good to 800-1000 full charge/discharge cycles before the output voltage begins to deteriorate. They warranty all packs for 150,000 miles or 8 years, with every Model S beyond the base model warrantied for unlimited miles.

Sounds to me like they're pretty confident in their battery chemistry. Nissan learned the hard way with the first and some second model year Leafs by using Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) chemistry that quickly lost output capacity and charge capacity when exposed to high temperatures when left fully charged. This chemistry is extremely heat sensitive and is used in no other production EV. Newer Leaf's have a more advanced cooling system and modified chemistry.

Toyota is among the most meticulous auto manufactures. They won't risk using an unproven chemistry in a vehicle that sells hundreds of thousands a year.

RE: sustainability?
By Mint on 7/14/2014 1:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
Overall good post, but some corrections needed.

Tesla doesn't use LiFePO4 chemistry. That's what the Volt uses. Tesla uses Li-NCA (nickel cobalt aluminum oxide) batteries from Panasonic. Lithium polymer usually refers to a polymer electrolyte (which Tesla doesn't use), often used for slim pouch-shaped laptop batteries. Electrovaya, however, is making LiPo batteries intended for EVs, good for 10,000 cycles.

RE: sustainability?
By zephyrprime on 7/14/2014 12:30:10 PM , Rating: 2
Terminology for lithium based battery is not precise. After all, lipo batteries still have lithium ions in them and I've seen them referred to as such. They probably will be using lithium phosphate or lithium spinel (manganese) since those two types are high discharge. By the way, cell phones use lipo (iithium polymer) batteries.

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