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Toyota Hybrid X Concept
Don't expect any impressive MPG gains in the next generation Toyota Prius

Toyota's next generation Prius likely won't have the spectacular boost in fuel economy that was once expected. In late May, the Japanese newspaper Nikkan Koyogo reported that Toyota was considering nixing the idea of putting lithium-ion batteries in the next generation Prius. The newspaper stated that there were concerns within the company about the safety of lithium-ion batteries -- something that Sony is already well aware of.

The Wall Street Journal confirmed today that the next-generation Prius will not use lithium-ion battery technology -- at least for the first few years. The lithium-ion batteries that were to be used in the Prius would have been provided by Panasonic EV Energy Company.

The Prius will instead continue to use nickel-metal hydride batteries -- albeit in a higher capacity form to boost mileage over the current generation vehicle.

Toyota's decision to not use lithium-ion battery technology could be a big break for General Motors. GM has long been in Toyota's shadow when it comes to hybrid technology, but the company is looking to reverse its fortunes in the coming years.

The company has launched its new "mild hybrid" Saturn Aura Green Line sedan and is nearing the release of dual-mode hybrid Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs. GM's coup de grâce, however, could be the upcoming Saturn Vue Green Line mid-sized crossover.

In 2009, the Saturn Vue Green Line will be equipped with a 2-mode hybrid powertrain and plug-in capabilities. Owners will be able to charge their vehicle overnight via a standard 110-volt outlet and drive 10 miles on fully charged lithium-ion batteries before the internal combustion engine takes over. In addition, GM says that its plug-in hybrid Vue Green Line is good for 70MPG.

All hope is not lost for the Prius in the quest for increased fuel economy. Current and future Prius owners can always look to third-parties to retrofit their vehicles with lithium-ion batteries. Lithium Technology Corporation has produced a lithium-ion battery pack (comprised of 63 LTC LiFePO4 cells) for the current Prius. When coupled with a plug-in system, fuel economy jumps from 46MPG combined to 125MPG.



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RE: Plug in capability
By jak3676 on 6/14/2007 11:26:42 AM , Rating: 2
Household elctricity is a few orders of magnatude cheaper. Even for the all-electic cars (the Prius is only a hybrid, even if it is a plug-in hybrid) you get the equivalant of a full tank for only a few dollars (US rates about $0.10 per kilo watt hour)


RE: Plug in capability
By EndPCNoise on 6/14/2007 1:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
Let's just suppose for a minute that people, in masses, bought electric and/or plug in hybrid cars.

The demand placed on the electricity grid would skyrocket.

What do you think would happen to the price of electricity or your electric bill?

What happens in the summer time when everyone is running their air conditioners?


RE: Plug in capability
By Spivonious on 6/14/2007 2:05:44 PM , Rating: 1
Umm...my electric bill goes up in the summer because I'm using more of it, not because they're charging more for it.


RE: Plug in capability
By EndPCNoise on 6/14/2007 2:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
Those of us who live in California and experienced the rolling blackouts and much higher electricity RATES know from experience what is is likely to happen.

We felt the pain in our wallets.


RE: Plug in capability
By Spivonious on 6/15/2007 3:41:24 PM , Rating: 2
Well I'm sorry you live in CA then. Just because CA does it doesn't mean the country does it.


RE: Plug in capability
By goz314 on 6/14/2007 2:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
...and the corresponding decrease in gasoline consumption decreases it's demand and therefore decreases its price for the consumer. The free-hand of the market works and everybody wins! Hooray for supply, demand, and consumer choice!


RE: Plug in capability
By TheGreek on 6/15/07, Rating: 0
RE: Plug in capability
By Oregonian2 on 6/14/2007 5:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, that's one of the infrastructure problems that needs to be answered for the 'general solution'. Where does the energy come from. The infrastructure for ALl cars to be 100% electric isn't in place, that probably requires a few nuke plants to be built. Same problem for hydrogen (where does the energy come from to "make" hydrogen). Sun, win, etc, perhaps, but those things probably won't keep up with needs just for non-auto purposes.


RE: Plug in capability
By ZmaxDP on 6/15/2007 5:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
I know this is a shocking idea, but you could couple your all electric vehicle purchase with a second mortgage on your home and use the loan to install a solar panel system. You could simultaneously cut your electricity and gasoline bill at a rather low interest rate. If I hadn't just started out at a new job and used an 80% 20% loan structure to get our house, I'd do the same thing. (oh yeah, if I could find a decent all electric vehicle...)


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