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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 Hoser McMoose on 6/14/2007 3:10:32 PM , Rating: 2
Definitely subject to geography. Interestingly electricity is much closer in price the world-over when compared to gasoline (which varies HUGELY from heavily subsidized ~$0.10/liter in Venezuela up to close to about $2.00/liter in some parts of Europe).

However within the United States there is quite a bit more variability when compared to gasoline. At any given time gas prices might vary from about $2.50/gallon to about $3.50/gallon in different parts of the country. Electicity prices, on the other hand, vary from a low of about $0.06/kWh in the northwest up to about $0.22/kWh in Hawaii (and maybe $0.17 in New York for the highest in continental US).


RE: Plug in capability
By EndPCNoise on 6/14/2007 5:35:23 PM , Rating: 3
You are really kidding yourself if you think subsidized power is going to save money.

Where do you think the government gets the money to pay these subsidies?

That would be your hard earned tax dollars . You are paying for it one way or another.


RE: Plug in capability
By amdsupport on 6/14/2007 7:06:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That would be your hard earned tax dollars . You are paying for it one way or another.


right...but you were already paying taxes to begin with so there really isn't a price increase unless they raise taxes.

If I have to pay taxes anyways I'd rather it go to subsidize something we can all benefit from rather than some congress person's "business trip" to Jamaica.


RE: Plug in capability
By EndPCNoise on 6/14/2007 7:46:58 PM , Rating: 2
You are missing the point completely...

You will pay for increases in the cost of electricity either through rate hikes or increased taxes (subsidies).

Pick your poison.


RE: Plug in capability
By amdsupport on 6/14/2007 11:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are missing the point completely...

right...and you are missing the point completely also...

if you are already paying taxes which in turn fund subsidies and you eliminate or significantly reduce a higher cost (not associated with taxes which fund the subsidies) you will save in return.

Like I said before "there really isn't a price increase unless they raise taxes." (which you seem to have completely ignored)

Even if there were rate hikes, there is no guarantee that the hikes would be significant enough to equal or surpass fuel cost for some or all people.


RE: Plug in capability
By EndPCNoise on 6/15/2007 4:05:15 AM , Rating: 2
I think we're on the same page now.

If electric and/or plug in hybrid vehicles take over a significant share of the market, and there isn't a significant increase in newly built power plants, you can expect the increased demand to drive up the cost of electricity.

Increased costs -> increased rate hikes -> no increase in subsidies -> no tax increase.
OR
Increased costs -> no rate hikes -> increased subsidies -> increased taxes.

Vehicles use less fossil fuels -> price of oil decreases.

If more coal or natural gas power plants are built to meet new demand -> price of coal and/or natural gas increases.

Many homes use natural gas utilities -> these people will pay more too.

Can't predict what the trade offs will be.


RE: Plug in capability
By Hoser McMoose on 6/15/2007 11:53:13 AM , Rating: 2
Err, I'm not sure I suggested subsidized power would save money at all. In fact I'm rather opposed to subsidized power in general, though I recognize that certain 'incentives' are sometimes needed to jump-start markets.

Personally I'm all for end-to-end costs being counted in and avoiding subsidies. Right now ALL energy is subsidized in various forms. Solar, wind, etc. are heavily subsidized directly. Coal plants receive some direct tax incentives and are VERY heavily subsidized through health care and environmental costs (coal plants cause an estimated $160 BILLION per year in the US for health costs, about half of which is covered by the taxpayer). New nuke plants get huge government-protected loans, tax incentives and subsidies. Oil gets similar health-related subsidies to coal and, of course, the HUGE military-cost subsidies to secure supplies (gas would be easily twice as expensive if we paid for this at the pump).

Yes, we do pay for subsidizing energy. We pay a LOT for it. Changing this isn't going to happen overnight.


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