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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 6/15/2007 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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