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Toyota to launch plug-in hybrid Prius July 19, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in electronics, Energy, Japan.
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The Asahi Shimbun reports that Toyota is set to file papers to allow it to test a new plug-in hybrid version of its Prius on the open road.

A fully electric plug-in vehicle of reasonable proportions for a single car household at a reasonable price and energy efficiency is still a way off, thus this plug-in hybrid approach is attractive, assuming that the electricity generation and delivery process results in a net decrease in CO2 emissions (which is a fair assumption given the current state of the electricity generation industry, and especially if the recharging is done preferentially at low power usage times where a proportionately higher percentage of the power generation is non-fossil fuel derived).

The technical highlight is the fact that Toyota are apparently switching to Li-ion technology.

A single full charge is only good for 15-20km range in full EV mode, but with advances in telematics and other innovations (including perhaps in social infrastructure), a significant portion of the daily use may be runnable in EV mode, at least in certain locales where typical trip distances are small (and even if the car has to revert to normal ICE assisted hybrid mode, the 15-20km worth comes off the top line CO2 footprint)

I think that the key is the improved telematics and other software which will allow maximum exploitation of the electrical storage capacity. Encouraging and educating users to use networked trip planners which are integrated to the in-car navigation and telematics systems would potentially allow an operating profile which maximises stored electrical energy usage. It shouldn’t be too hard for Toyota to build that functionality on top of (or in place of) their G-Book navigation system and integrate with the rest of the car electronics.

Of course, getting away from the whole “owning a car is a status symbol” mindset would be nice, especially in Tokyo. (I fully understand that if one lives in the suburbs or the countryside, one car per person is pretty much mandatory)

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