Monday, April 24, 2006

Toyota Ratchets Up Plug-In Prius Talk

23 April 2006

By Jack Rosebro

In an interview published in the UK’s The Guardian, Toyota executive Shinichi Abe has been quoted as confirming that Toyota is working on plug-in hybrids, and as asserting that the next-generation Prius will have an all-electric range of about nine miles, or 14.5 kilometers.

According to The Guardian, Abe, who heads Toyota’s hybrid development program, further commented that future Toyota hybrids will be able to operate as mobile generators, and that the company is interested in the addition of electrical charging outlets to traditional gas stations as a step towards a petroleum-free future.

The comments are but the latest in a series of indicators that Toyota is increasingly interested in talking about—and working toward—a plug-in future for its hybrids.

Another UK publication, the Auto Express, recently published an article (earlier post) which included a Toyota engineer’s assertion that the next Prius, due in late 2007 as a 2008 model, is being designed with a fuel consumption target of 94 miles per gallon (US), or 2.5 l/100km.

And earlier this year, when asked by Green Car Congress if the hybrid Camry’s introduction now paves the way for a redesign of the Prius with even more radical technologies (earlier post), Dave Hermance of Toyota replied, “Absolutely.” Hermance made his comment at the third annual SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Hybrid Symposium in San Diego in February.

Last year, Toyota exhibited a concept home in Japan (earlier post) that included a plug-in Prius. Designed in cooperation with Toyota’s home-building division, Toyota Home K.K., the Toyota Dream House Papi was touted as an environmentally friendly, energy-saving intelligent house that could interact with other Toyota technologies. The house was designed to be able to use the Prius as its sole energy source for up to 36 hours in emergencies, and to recharge the Prius when needed. At the time, Toyota said that it expected such technologies to be in use by 2010.

In February 2005, Toyota announced plans to lease a modified Prius capable of providing 3 kW at 120 volts to a rural electric cooperative in Oklahoma for field and market testing.

1 comment:

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