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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: Why!
By theoflow on 6/15/2007 9:49:23 AM , Rating: 2
I think a primary reason why people don't like Hybrids is because they stress efficiency over anything else.

A major selling point of the Prius is that it actually has a useable trunk. Yes, the Accord, Civic, Camry, and Vue Saturn all have trunks but there are no dropdown seats. In the Prius you get that, and by giving it that capability, you get a hatchback.

And being America, hatchbacks are borderline station wagons and although I like hatchs (and certain station wagons), most Americans don't. Hell, the whole new cross-over vehicles such as the Chrysler Pacifica (a tall wagon) and Acura RDX (Tall hatchback) try to be something other than a wagon or hatch. Of coarse there are exceptions since the Mazda RX8 is a coupe hatch, and you could even go so far as to technically call a 911 a hatchback. If they made a hot hatch hybrid with two doors, those cars would fly out of dealerships. Wishfull thinking: European 5 door Civic Hatch.

The picture above isn't all that appealing but until you see it in person, opinions might change. I for one was very dissapointed by the new Mustang because it looked like the classic one, but the dimensions are just all out of wack; especially the rear end.

And to those people who think hybrids are for tree huggers, 70% of people who bought a hybrid bought it for selfish (albiet understandable reasons); Fuel economy (not to be confused with not using fuel) and (this is very important) H-O-V LANE.

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