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Toyota Going 100% Hybrid By 2020 619

autofan1 writes "Toyota's vice president in charge of powertrain development, Masatami Takimoto, has said cost cutting on the electric motor, battery and inverter were all showing positive results in reducing the costs of hybrid technology and that by the time Toyota's sales goal of one million hybrids annually is reached, it 'expect margins to be equal to gasoline cars.' Takimoto also made the bold claim that by 2020, hybrids will be the standard drivetrain and account for '100 percent' of Toyota's cars as they would be no more expensive to produce than a conventional vehicle."
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Toyota Going 100% Hybrid By 2020

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  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @04:59PM (#19136755)

    Takimoto also made the bold claim that by 2020, hybrids will be the standard drivetrain and account for '100 percent' of Toyota's cars as they would be no more expensive to produce than a conventional vehicle.
    100% is a lofty goal. Is that just cars or does it include trucks & SUV's too?
    • by Charcharodon ( 611187 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:06PM (#19136909)
      Actually an electric drive train on trucks and SUV's would be more desireable than your typical transmission that we've had for the last 40-50 years. Electric motors make the most torque at zero RPMs for much better load/towing. There is also once they make the switch to independently powered wheels (an electric motor built into the wheel) you could have much more interesting steering suspension options since there would be no drive shafts getting in the way.

      As far as they've said they mean all their vehicles will have hybrid drivetrains. The only sad thing is going to be our grandkids asking us what it means to drive "stick".

      • For the record, my hybrid has a "stick". I rather like it that way (and I get slightly better mileage because of it).
        • agreed. I had a stick hybrid. and IF I ever buy another hybrid, it's gonna be a stick again. Any car I get into that's not a stick never feels quite right.

          (Then I get stuck in traffic in a stick and wish I had an auto. But 5 minutes in an auto will set me right.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by HUADPE ( 903765 )
            Personally, I'd like an all electric drivetrain with a gas motor to provide electricity. Then you could eliminate the need for a transmission entirely.
      • The only sad thing is going to be our grandkids asking us what it means to drive "stick".

        Actually, your grandkids are going to be asking you what it means to "drive". To them, a car will be something you get into and then tell where you want to go.

        In 25 years, knowing how to manually drive a car will be about as useful and quaint as knowing how to ride a horse is today.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:20PM (#19137125)
        The problem with in wheel motors is that they have a really high un-sprung weight. This means that on bumps, the momentum that the wheel/motor has will be hard to stop with a shock absorber and thus the tire will lift off the ground resulting in poor cornering / braking and a rough and noisy ride. Having an individual motor for each wheel mounted to the car's frame that has a small axle to the wheel is required for decent performance.

        in hub motors are bad, unless they are really light, like around 4-8kg.
        • That is very true, but it does seem like the end goal for car developers. Even with the motors mounted on the frame near each wheel, you would have a nice low center of gravity with most of the vehicle weight at the corners.
          • by AaronW ( 33736 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @08:07PM (#19139311) Homepage
            I was talking with a friend of mine who works at Tesla motors and he said the same thing. A motor in each wheel adds too much mass there and makes the suspension far more difficult to deal with, plus having to properly split the power between different wheels. Basically it's simpler and cheaper to just use a centralized motor like a conventional car, which also gives better performance. Generally for performance you want to lower the mass as much as possible in the wheels since this reduces the angular momentum in the wheels and makes it much more responsive to bumps and other imperfections in the road surface.

            I could see adding a smaller motor for the front and a larger motor in the rear, since the best acceleration comes from the rear, but front or all wheel drive is advantageous in some circumstances (i.e. driving in snow) and could provide even better regenerative braking support. (I.e. the front motor could be optimized as an alternator/generator while the rear one is optimized to provide power to the wheels).

            Sure, a motor in each wheel would allow for some really creative designs, but it's not very practical due to the added weight, suspension, cost and complexity involved.

            Also, in general, a single larger motor will be more efficient than two or four smaller motors, and is easier to add support for liquid cooling, power, etc. Having exposed high voltage wires to each wheel would be a reliability problem as well as a safety problem as well. Many hybrid motors run at well over 400 volts with multi-phase power and a lot of amps. Having this confined within the chassis means shorter wires, so less losses, less EMF, and better safety.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by goombah99 ( 560566 )
        Hybrids will need to evolve and differentiate for use I think. As you observe, for truck usage involving low torque driving patterns-- e.g. off road, construction, factory and warehouse, applications--hybrids are better engines than gasoline. But for long haul trucking the advantages are less clear. Diesels may be quite effective there. And future generation of spark plug engines or plasma combustion will probably beat diesels.

        There are engine technologies that exist now that are as good as hybrids and m
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Energy lose from generator to battery typically for most systems is around 10-20%, it really depends on what you are working with, but where hybrids make it up is they recapture 3-60% of the energy back through regenative breaking. This is why typically a hybrid gets much better gas mileage in the city than on the highway. Again it depends on the kind of hybrid it is. The other big advantage is that the motor is controlled by a computer which keeps it running in one of several power bands where it is at
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by nasch ( 598556 )

            A Toyota Prius is a gas assisted electric car. The electric motor drives the wheels and the gas motor powers the batteries.

            Actually in Toyota's HSD [wikipedia.org] the gas engine is connected to an electric motor-generator. I don't fully understand everything on the WP page, but it's not like the gas engine drives an alternator which charges the batteries, while the batteries discharge to power the motors. The ICE is connected directly to one of the electric motors.

            And just for some pedantic fun, it's "braking energy" not "breaking energy", and "all intents and purposes" not "all intensive purposes". The latter seems like a fairly common

      • I say good riddance to the stick shift. There's no reason that a human should be making the kind of mechanical, mindless decision that a machine could make faster, more accurately, and more consistently.
      • Does anybody else think the really awesome thing about independently powered wheels would be the body style options it would open up? Really slick sci-fi looking vehicles.

        The only thing holding it back is impact and safety testing (boo) which is what keeps a lot of really cool exotic vehicles from being street legal today. In my opinion the real solution to road safety is to get the damn freight trains off the road and back on railroad tracks. Semi's are a fucking disgusting abomination, and are horr

    • "Takimoto also made the bold claim that by 2020, hybrids will be the standard drivetrain..."

      Hmm...well, hopefully by then, they will have designed them to be less butt ugly and more pleasing to the eye. Also, maybe they'll come out with some with better performance numbers.

      In the meantime, I'm waiting a few years hoping the price of the Tesla [teslamotors.com] will come down in price to be more like a Vette....now THAT will be green car I'm interested in.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kevinx ( 790831 )
      I remember Mazda making a statement about all their cars being rotory engines back in the 80's. Didn't happen. A lot can change in another 13 years, it's quite possible that effiencies in other areas work their way into production much quicker than the path to cheap hybrids. Granted, forward looking statements should to be taken with a grain of salt as they typically don't pan out. This was probably just ment to bring warm fuzzies to all the eco friendly people out there, as well as stock holders who want t
    • by vought ( 160908 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:35PM (#19137379)
      GM, Chrysler and Ford announce that they'll transition to "thinking about possibly getting some of those battery-rechargey cars" into production by 2015.

  • Isn't this a bit like the current market leader placing its eggs all in one (hybrid) basket? I welcome the rebel fighters willing to tackle the status quo. Hybrid is neat tech, but still. It isn't the be all, end all solution.

    - - -

    every bicycle is green
    • If the other car manufacturers are smart, they'll build less fuel efficient cars. Then by 2020, there will be no more gas and Toyota's invesment in hybrids will be useless.
    • by MBCook ( 132727 )

      I think it makes a ton of sense. As the scale of production increases, the cost difference will drop. Depending on what happens this may be practically required at some point to meet emissions requirements while having good power. Still Toyota current has one big problem with hybrids: they can't make them fast enough. The Prius is selling faster than they can produce them, I don't know about the Camary and Highlander. On top of those, the Lexus SUV uses the Toyota system and I think Ford might on their hybr

  • Hopefully, they will also have either a battery recycling program or batteries that don't have such nasty stuff in them...
    • by dattaway ( 3088 )
      Hopefully, they will also have either a battery recycling program or batteries that don't have such nasty stuff in them...

      I bet you didn't know most cars have a good sized lead acid battery in them. I believe the rates of lead poisoning far exceed nickel poisoning:

      http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/surv/database/State_C onfirmed_byYear_1997_to_2005.xls [cdc.gov]
    • Re:Batteries (Score:5, Informative)

      by esampson ( 223745 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:10PM (#19136969) Homepage

      From Toyota's own website (http://www.toyota.com/about/environment/technolog y/2004/hybrid.html [toyota.com])

      Is there a recycling plan in place for nickel-metal hydride batteries?

      Toyota has a comprehensive battery recycling program in place and has been recycling nickel-metal hydride batteries since the RAV4 Electric Vehicle was introduced in 1998. Every part of the battery, from the precious metals to the plastic, plates, steel case and the wiring, is recycled. To ensure that batteries come back to Toyota, each battery has a phone number on it to call for recycling information and dealers are paid a $200 "bounty" for each battery.

      So I suppose that yes, they will have a battery recycling program in place since it is doubtful they would discontinue their current one.

      • Cool. If only they paid the *car owner* a "bounty" for recycling the batteries.

        In wonder what will happen with all those hybrids when the batteries reach the end of their service life and need to be replaced? With this new generation of hybrids, will we see a huge move towards leasing instead of buying?
        • If you paid car owners so much you'd just create a market for stolen batteries.

          Don't know if such a premium is sustainable if hybrids are ever to become cost competitive.
          • That was my first thought as well, but after thinking about it I realized that these batteries are far heavier than the battery that sits in a conventional car and they are probably a lot less accessible. I doubt people are going to be tearing these out of cars for $200. Probably the only way for a criminal to get the battery out would be to first steal the car, which I doubt they would do solely for the battery, especially since it likely has a serial number or something which means they couldn't sell it b
          • They already do this. Many recyclable car parts have a "core" charge. It works like a bottle or can deposit. You either bring in the old battery when you buy a new one, or you pay the core charge and get it refunded if you bring back the old battery. Simple.
        • I'm pretty sure at least some of the 'bounty' will get passed on to the car owner (though I suspect the dealers will certainly pocket some of it for themselves). I think they only pay the dealers so that they won't have to process as much paperwork and issue as many checks since the dealers will aggregate the batteries together.

          Also just a little above the section I quoted they talk about the lifespan of the Prius batteries and say that since they started making the Prius in 2000 they haven't replaced a sin

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      They use big NiMH battery packs. If you were to eat one about the only thing it would do is maybe make you constipated. They are about as toxic as a hotdog, oh wait never mind, hotdogs are pretty damn toxic, but oh so good.

      Really though NiMH batteries are some of the more environmentally friendly battery types out there compaired to all the rest.

  • '100 percent' of Toyota's cars...

    That's great, except that their new cash cow is trucks. I don't think Tundras are included in that prediction.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xealot ( 96947 )
      Why not? The new Lexus 600h has a 5 litre V8 hybrid engine, so I don't see why they wouldn't put something similar in trucks designed for towing/4-wheeling. There's plenty of power/torque to be had from this kind of setup.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      That's great, except that their new cash cow is trucks. I don't think Tundras are included in that prediction.

      Why not? Its not like there is something magic about "truck" that makes a hybrid drivetrain less useful, and Toyota already makes hybrid SUVs.
  • Oh-oh and In 25 years we'll have flying cars too. Personally I don't care about hybrids, I want Mr. Fusion power plant instead of a fuel tank.
  • Disappointed. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Freak ( 16973 ) <prius...driver@@@mac...com> on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:03PM (#19136841) Journal

    I'd actually like to see them commit to alternative fuels more. "100% hybrid" isn't good enough for me. 100% hybrid by 2010 would be nice, with a move to embrace other fuels by 2020.

    Of course, he didn't say gas hybrid. Diesel hybrids would be nice; and this doesn't exclude plug-in hybrids, which have more utility than pure electric vehicles. And, in some strange way, you could consider a fuel cell/battery car to be a hybrid, even though the actual drivetrain is 100% electric. But some pure electric vehicles would be nice (bring back the RAV4-EV!) as would other alternative fuels.

    • Plug-in hybrids would be the "killer app" (bingo, sir!) that would really start to move the country (and perhaps much of the world) away from petroleum dependence. The significantly increased demand for electric power would be exactly what's needed to finally spur the government and the utilities to start building more nuclear and other non-fossil-fuel power plants and updating the distribution network. Development of agriculturally-produced fuels could continue alongside this, of course, since they'd be
    • In the 12 years to 2020, we can reduce the consumption of net carbon releaseing fuels and import fuels far more by conservation than by alternative energy. THere is no way we could provide 20% of our petroleum fuels from alternatives by 2020. But we could very plausibly increase fleet efficiency by more than 25%. Indeed this magnitude drop already happened in a very short time following the carter administration rules. (and we have given back some of those gains in the intervening years). Additionally, a
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by malsdavis ( 542216 )
        "Additionally, alternative fuels are not benign."

        I think this is an extremely important point. In the rush to limit the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels, it seems the environmental risks of some of the alternative fuel sources are being almost completely ignored. The potential environmental damage which widespread biofuel usage could cause is particularly scary.

        Every single study has shown that the astronomical land requirements needed to produce biofuel crops on a scale for it to replace gas in
      • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:24PM (#19138099) Journal
        If you think carbon release is important, coal is by far the place to focus your concern. America generates more CO2 from burning coal to produce electrical power than all the CO2 generated from all transportation combined. A lot of change could be made in 12 years (without asking anyone to lower their standard of living) by simply replacing coal-burning power plants.

        Nuclear power may have it's risks, but those risks are well studied, and even if every single American nuclear power plant had a Three mile Island style meltdown all in the same year, the collective environmental impact would still be less than normal coal usage. (And of course modern nuclear power plant designs make that kind of meltdown physically impossible.)
  • My mom use to have one back in the 80's. After a decade she gave it to my grandfather to use on the farm, this thing still runs. If they can get that kind of reliability int a hybrid, more power to them. Looking forward to getting one.
  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:05PM (#19136863) Homepage Journal
    Somehow, I'd hoped that 13 years from now we'd be all electric, or otherwise not tied permanently to OPEC's apron strings. Hybrids are a nice improvement, but they're not exactly flying cars or solar power.

    I suppose in Car Industry terms, 13 years isn't all that far off. I suspect that a car model is perhaps 5 to 7 years in the making, or longer for a really radical redesign.

    But to think that I'll be turning 50 and cars will still be burning plain old gasoline, with only a moderate improvement in performance over right now... that makes me depressed.
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      Somehow, I'd hoped that 13 years from now we'd be all electric, or otherwise not tied permanently to OPEC's apron strings.

      Well, I think that we've not improved cars much at all in the past 13 years. Take an advanced car from 13 years ago. I like the Toyota Supra Twin Turbo. That's fitting because it's also a Toyota. The mileage wasn't that good, but the technology is still above most cars, and the performance is above just about all cars. In 13 years, there is nothing with the performance of the Supr
      • by ASBands ( 1087159 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:12PM (#19137917) Homepage

        You are absolutely correct: this graph [typepad.com] shows the average miles per gallon of all vehicles in the United States. It is extremely telling that the graph is practically level since the mid 80s. To think that we haven't gained any more knowledge of engines is ridiculous - we should be improving fuel-efficiency standards, but we're not.

        To address the GP, I recall reading somewhere that if the average vehicle got 28 miles per gallon (the actual number is between 25 and 30), we would not have to import a drop of oil from OPEC. Even if hybrids get only 50 mpg [slashdot.org], the demand for fuel would decrease substantially. Furthermore, the technology that goes into hybrid vehicles could easily improve (it's a relatively new technology).

    • Yeah but look how long we had horses before finally switching to the vastly superior petroleum powered transportation. We had feces in the streets for more than a whole generation, and almost no improvement at all in performance during that time.

      The best way to make electric work is to take advantage of its ease of transmission and design around it's poor storability: don't even try to store enough energy for a whole trip. Electrify the roads and keep just enough battery in the cars for the short segments
  • Hmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Well, according to the story from yesterday, I believe, the MPG of hybrids was actually incorrect, and was over-estimating the average MPG by more than 10mpg. Meaning the Prius not only looks pretty ugly, but it gets slightly better mileage than my Honda Civic which isn't hybrid. Plus, I don't have to worry about disposing of batteries ($$$) and replacing the batteries (more $$$).
    • by bahwi ( 43111 )
      Don't worry, according to the article yesterday your gas mileage is going to go down a lot as well. :)
      Plus the batteries are typically warrantied for replacement(8 years on the civics I believe).
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

      by esampson ( 223745 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:27PM (#19137237) Homepage

      From Toyota's own site (http://www.toyota.com/about/environment/technolog y/2004/hybrid.html [toyota.com])

      How long does the Prius battery last and what is the replacement cost?

      The Prius battery (and the battery-power management system) has been designed to maximize battery life. In part this is done by keeping the battery at an optimum charge level - never fully draining it and never fully recharging it. As a result, the Prius battery leads a pretty easy life. We have lab data showing the equivalent of 180,000 miles with no deterioration and expect it to last the life of the vehicle. We also expect battery technology to continue to improve: the second-generation model battery is 15% smaller, 25% lighter, and has 35% more specific power than the first. This is true of price as well. Between the 2003 and 2004 models, service battery costs came down 36% and we expect them to continue to drop so that by the time replacements may be needed it won't be a much of an issue. Since the car went on sale in 2000, Toyota has not replaced a single battery for wear and tear.

      So it isn't as though you will be replacing the battery every few years. 7 years without a single replacement makes me suspect that if you bought a new Prius now the battery would last on average at least 10 to 15 years (since the batteries being installed now are even better than those installed 7 years ago).

      Also because of Toyota's battery recycling program paying $200 per battery (though I expect that would drop as the cost of the batteries get lower) you won't, or at least shouldn't, have any form of disposal charge.

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MojoRilla ( 591502 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:38PM (#19137415)
      Well, if you had actually read yesterday's article [wired.com], you would have seen that the mileage estimate on your regular civic has also dropped. The Prius combined estimate dropped 16%, while the non hybrid Civic dropped 12%. Even after the milage drop, the Prius still gets 58% better combined fuel economy than your Civic (46 mpg vs. 29 mpg combined).

      Of course, these are just estimates, and your mileage may vary.
  • I would really like to see Toyota build a car that is identical to a current hybrid and find the costs associated with the vehicle including:
    1) The money saved in the design by not having the electrical engine, battery, extra alternator system
    2) The added vehicle life (if any) by not having extra parts to fail.
    3) A more realistic estimate of the gas money saved under the new, more realistic mileage ratings [slashdot.org]
    4)The additional cost of disposing batteries from the hybrid upon the hybrids end

    I feel that we
  • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:12PM (#19137015) Homepage Journal
    GM today announced plans to begin planning the development of a new hybrid platform. A GM executive was quoted saying "Toyota has really got a jump on this whole 'hybrid' thing, but we're on it!" The new platform, due out in 13 years is expected to compete against the current Prius. Only time will tell if this risky endeavor will be a wise one.

    • Your joke is somewhat undermined by the hybrid GM vehicles that are currently available:

      2006 Chevrolet Silverado
      2006 GMC Sierra
      2007 Saturn Vue

      And soon including the upcoming 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon.
  • What a dreadful idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ronanbear ( 924575 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:15PM (#19137059)
    Hybrids are only more efficient for certain forms of driving. For cruising at motorway speeds the hybrid is just extra weight lowering efficiency. Improvements in diesel engines might well outpace hybrid technology.

    Why would anyone wants to do this? It actually doesn't make any sense. 100% of cars represents a lot of recycling and a lot of cost (and pollution) in expired and leaking batteries.

    A hybrid can't make an engine more efficient. It just makes it more efficient over certain parts of the power band. Unless they redefine hybrid to mean starter-alternator with minimal power assist there are going to be a lot of cars that don't see any gain. Incidentally I do think every car will (and should) have a starter-alternator in that timescale.

    Other improvements in engine technology are negating the need for a hybrid motor at all. Going back to the Honda Insight the original hybrid: it doubled the milage of a Civic. 35% was due to exotic materials, aerodynamics, reduced rolling resistance; 35% was due to a more efficient engine and the last 30% was due to the expensive hybrid drivetrain.

    By all means hybrids should become more popular, even more popular than conventionally powered but full replacement is based more on dogma and marketing than sound engineering reasons.
    • by dfoulger ( 1044592 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:21PM (#19137143) Homepage
      Your assumption that hybrids are "dead weight" at highway speeds is wrong. I get my best hybrid mileage on the highway (often at or over 70 MPG). It doesn't have to be that way. A hybrid designed for torque rather than economy might now do any better than a standard engine at highway speeds, but a hybrid designed for economy rather than torque (like my Honda Insight) does.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by evilviper ( 135110 )

        Your assumption that hybrids are "dead weight" at highway speeds is wrong.

        No, it's exactly correct.

        I get my best hybrid mileage on the highway (often at or over 70 MPG).

        Mileage, yes. "Hybrid," no. Your car's hybrid system (electric motor/generator) shuts off at 35MHz, and can't possibly help your gas mileage, in any way, above that speed.
        • by dfoulger ( 1044592 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:16PM (#19138797) Homepage
          You are clearly thinking Prius rather than Insight. The Insight's electric motor/generator operates at all speeds above 20 MPH (and under some conditions under 20MPH). When I reach highway speeds and feather back on the accelerator to match the speed I want to go (usually the same as the traffic around me), the electric motor draws on the batteries on uphills and charges it whenever the power output of the engine exceeds the power required to maintain speed. There are many ways to design a hybrid drivetrain. Some, like the Prius, are optimized to give great mileage in the city and don't significantly improve on that mileage on the highway. Some, like the Insight, give great mileage on the highway and merely good mileage in the city. Others improve performance at the expense of mileage. I know. I own one and have tested most of them.
    • by Control Group ( 105494 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:26PM (#19137209) Homepage
      The real win of hybrids isn't the drivetrain, it's rengenerative braking. Storing kinetic energy rather than dissipating it as heat is an obvious efficiency win, since you're presumably going to stop moving at some point.

      Really, the other efficiencies of hybrids are side effects of regenerative braking - once you've got an infrastructure in the car to store kinetic energy and subsequently deliver it to the wheels, you might as well use that infrastructure to improve the running efficiency as much as possible.

      Now, it's possible that for current hybrids, the overhead incurred by including that infrastructure outweighs the gains of regenerative braking for some driving profiles, but there's no reason to think that will always be the case, since that's an engineering problem, not a physics one.

      Other things equal, vehicles with regenerative braking will always be more fuel-efficient than vehicles without. The challenge is to make other things equal.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Chirs ( 87576 )
        "Other things equal, vehicles with regenerative braking will always be more fuel-efficient than vehicles without."

        That's only true if you are actually braking.

        Driving long stretches on the highway there is no braking involved and air resistance is high. You are limited by the power of the gas engine (because you'd drain your battery if you tried to use it continually), so most of the time the weight of the electric portion is a disadvantage.

        The real advantage of the hybrid is where there is frequent brakin
        • by djmurdoch ( 306849 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:54PM (#19137687)
          Driving long stretches on the highway there is no braking involved and air resistance is high. You are limited by the power of the gas engine (because you'd drain your battery if you tried to use it continually), so most of the time the weight of the electric portion is a disadvantage.

          At constant speeds weight doesn't matter. It's only when you're accelerating that you pay the cost of the weight, and (in a hybrid) you recover some of it when you brake.

          At constant highway speeds you don't need a lot of power from your engine, so having a small gas engine (like a hybrid) gives better efficiency than having a great big engine which is hardly being used at all.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by toddestan ( 632714 )
            At constant speeds weight doesn't matter. It's only when you're accelerating that you pay the cost of the weight, and (in a hybrid) you recover some of it when you brake.

            That's true as air resistance goes, but the extra weight is going to increase the friction between the car and the road (not to mention the internal friction in the car between the wheels and the rest of the car), so the extra weight will drop your economy a bit.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ArsonSmith ( 13997 )
          Unless you drive the exact same speed on perfectly flat ground for the entire trip what you are saying isn't true.

          It is more than just regenerative braking. Every time you slow from 75 to 70 then speed back up, the hybrid engine will help. Need to pass that slow poke in a hurry? stomp the gas pedal and the hybrid will assist you in speeding up, get pass him and the recharge cycle will kick in to recoup some of the waste used to speed up in the first place.

    • Hybrids are only more efficient for certain forms of driving. For cruising at motorway speeds the hybrid is just extra weight lowering efficiency.

      While you're technically right about this, you've really missed one of the reasons the hybrid GETS such great mileage on the highway.

      Hybrids are able to have very small engines which produce great mileage because they have an extra "boost" power when accelerating. People really dislike the slow acceleration that having a tiny engine alone produces. In effect the
  • 0% Zero Emissions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:23PM (#19137181) Homepage Journal
    So Toyota will sell no all-electric or other "zero emissions" cars in 2020? No H2 or fuelcell vehicles? Hybrids are better than simple internal combustion engines, but not good enough. Has Toyota and the car industry just figured out that they can avoid the really big change away from gasoline just by getting us all to go "ooh, hybrids - that's good"?
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @07:16PM (#19138801)
      All-electric will not happen as long as people like to take long trips. I can go from zero-power to 400 mile range in under 5 minutes in a gasoline car. An all-electric vehicle attempting the same feat would need to either swap batteries or pass current capable of running a small town.

      No H2 or fuelcell vehicles?

      You seem to have a reading comprehension problem. There was nothing stated that it would be an all-gasoline fleet. It would just be an all-hybrid fleet. That is, even if H2 or fuel cells were cheap and available, they would still have the regenerative braking, electric assist, and batteries of a current gasoline hybrid. The costs will be so low that there will be no single-source engine more efficient than a hybrid. Or, to ask another way, why would you waste H2 by not using regenerative braking? Why do you think hydrogen would not work with hybrids?
  • Big deal! (Score:3, Funny)

    by cashman73 ( 855518 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:24PM (#19137187) Journal
    I'm still waiting for my Mr. Fusion , that will enable me to power my vehicle on ordinary household garbage! After all, it's the only power source that's capable of generating the 1.21 Gigawatts of electricity necessary to run the Flux Capacitor in my DeLorean! ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you've ever driven Toyota you should know that it doesn't make cars, it makes lifeless soulless appliances, sort of fridges and sofas on wheals.
    That's why going hybrid will not damage its qualities.
    Sorry Toyota, in my 30s I'm not old enough to drive your vacuum cleaners

    • by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:43PM (#19137501)
      that works for me, when I need to drive from point a to point b I don't want my car to factor in the equation: I don't think about my fridge day after day, polishing it, cleaning the freezer section, lubing the door handles, having to take it in for service multiple times a year because its compressor has yet again broken down. Yeah, it can freeze my leftovers to -120C in 20 seconds, but when am I ever going to be able to use all that cooling power given that most things I eat can do just fine at -10/-15C?

      My fridge serves my needs, keeping my food fresh, just like my car serves my needs, going from point a to point b as safely and as worry-free as possible, hence why I drive a toyota: because outside of taking it in for maintenance every 5,000 miles it's just like another appliance, reliable, efficient, and that does what I need with a minimum of fuss.
  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @05:29PM (#19137279)
    marketing pieces. I think it was a GM executive who released a public statement that hybrids were bad because it distracted attention from the real future, hydrogen fuelcell vehicles. Oh, and he chose to release this the same week that Toyota invited the press to see the Prius built on the same productionline as 4 other cars. Not being custom built in some special production facility.

    Go Toyota, show em how its done. Can you believe that the US had actually started working on hybrid vehicle in 1993? Yup, but good ole George Dubya Bush terminated government backing/involvement once he/Dick created the hydrogen program?

  • ...100 percent of toyota cars have flux capacitors.
  • 50% gasoline engine-powered, 50% flintstones foot-powered? No thanks!

    Really, though, Toyota is talking about margins here. In other words, profit. Well, hybrids cost quite a bit more than their "conventional" counterparts. So much more, in fact, that you need to own one for much longer than is typical in order to *break even* through fuel savings.

    And, according to this report by CNW [cnwmr.com], hybrids aren't nearly as helpful when it comes to energy savings as one might like to think. Indeed, my Xterra is more
  • Prius experience... (Score:4, Informative)

    by dtjohnson ( 102237 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @06:25PM (#19138135)
    After owning a 2006 Prius for a little over a year, I can say that a hybrid is about more than just miles per gallon. Yes, the mpg is good but that isn't the only good thing about them. Some other good things:

    1) The electric/hybrid drive is nicer to drive in traffic because the electric drive makes it pull away from a stop much more cleanly and strongly than a non-hybrid drive with no revving-up motor.

    2) The wear-and-tear stuff like like brake pads, mufflers, batteries, starter motors, clutch, transmission, starter motor, etc. is either gone or morphed into a much longer lifespan due to reduced wear. The only significant maintenance items on the Prius are oil changes and tire replacement.

    3) The battery gives you a backup power source. I've already managed to run out of gas and the battery lets you keep on going for a couple of more miles to the freeway exit which was very cool.

    4) The car can run a lot of electrical gear (if you get an inexpensive inverter) if you go car camping since it is basically a very quiet, efficient 60 hp generator. Toyota should offer an inverter option and a built-in outlet plug on the side for RV owners who tow one behind the RV.

    5) The Prius is very cheap to drive.

    6) The Prius has a very nice interior space layout (for a small car) with much more legroom than is typical thanks to its small transverse motor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by terciops ( 892942 )
      Agreed in full. I have owned a 2001 (series 2) Prius for 2.5 years now and apart from a new set of wiper blades and routine oil and filters it has required nothing spent on it at all - except fuel. I get ~1000kms between fill ups and it returns 20km/lt if driven hard and 22-25 km/lt in normal driving. My best tank mileage was 28 km/lt (see table to decode for non metric drivers). It is now on 103,000 kms total mileage (kilometrage ?) and is in perfect health. Tyre wear is better than normal and it still

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court