Toyota's Problem With Plug-in Hybrids

Discussion in 'PHEV or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle' started by Right Lane Cruiser, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    [​IMG] Battery advances could considerably reduce the size, cost and complexity of larger-output packs.

    [FIMG=RIGHT][/FIMG] Jim Motavalli - BNET - June 2, 2009

    Without training, these vehicles can't be used to their fullest potential. --Ed.

    NEW YORK CITY—The “Meeting of the Minds,” an international city planning conference held in the most urban of settings (the 60th floor of a JP Morgan Chase office tower) was perhaps an unlikely setting for a tutorial on the inherent problems of plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars, but Toyota was the main sponsor and it had a point to get across.

    The PHEV question was addressed both by Irv Miller, Toyota’s group vice president of environmental and public affairs; and Bill Reinert, the company’s national manager of advanced technology. Although Toyota will roll out its own leased fleet of 500 Prius-based PHEVs in what it calls a marketing experiment, their main point was that PHEVS cost too much for too little environmental benefit.

    Instead of the 100 miles per gallon equivalent that some proponents claim, the plug-in reality is between 50 and 55 mpg, they said—not better than the third generation Prius that the company is not coincidentally just rolling out.

    Miller said that the promise of the lithium-ion battery pack—used in both PHEVs and pure battery EVs—has led to “inflated expectations beyond the technical realities.” As evidence of irrational exuberance, he cited both San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s declaration that traditional hybrids are “yesterday’s technology” and President Barack Obama’s pledge to have a million PHEVs on the road by 2015.

    For Miller, it’s not altogether clear that consumers are willing to pay a premium for the extra miles of all-electric range that PHEVs offer. “Judgment Day is just around the corner,” he said. “And the challenge here is that after the... [RM][/RM]
  2. Taliesin

    Taliesin Well-Known Member

    From earlier articles we know that part of the training needed is really simple:

    Plug it in!
  3. bnther

    bnther Well-Known Member

    Looks like they might be trying to build a case for hydrogen again.
  4. Dogarm

    Dogarm Penmanship Champion

    And if you're gonna Train, may as well train the new generations of BEV drivers, rather than going through a brief, awkward PHEV transition.
  5. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    I think Toyota might have a point with the plug in hybrids. Toyota has always downplayed the Lithium battery potential-always implied that the Volt just wasn't going to deliver the reliability-always said that Lithium batteries weren't ready for prime time.

    They might be right. It probably makes more sense to build very cheap-say $15000- all electric cars with maybe 35-40 mile range and 4 adult capacity with the rear seats being barely tolerable.It needs to be small and light-2300 lbs all up, so it can't be 4 adult comfortable-like a Prius- it has to be 4 adult tolerable like the backseat of extended cab pickups. Initially it would just be a second car for affluent urban/suburban folks.
    Perhaps add an onboard generator to an upscale version of it(another $5000 probably and 300 lbs)-I mean a tiny generator- 10 hp-enough to push it home at 35 mph or to recharge it if it stopped in the middle of nowhere.

    Pure electric cheap and small (light) is the way to go initially. Adding all the extra cost to 50 mpg Prius doesn't make sense. 10,000 miles/yr is 200 gallons/yr-$500/yr- 100 mpg saves just 100 gallons $250/yr.
    For actual fuel saving it makes more sense to send folks here to learn improve their mpg by 25%-(one EPA vehicle size more or less).Improving from 16 to 20 mpg saves 125 gal/yr(10,000 miles) and it is free-it doesn't require and motor shutdown or shifting to neutral.Just a bit more tire pressure, P&G in the city, drive 64 mph hy instead of 69 mph, syn oil, shut down at long lights-not much.

    Toyota might be right- an extended electric range Prius is gilding the lily. All electric and small ICE cars make more sense. The aftermarket charges $10,000 to add 10 all electric miles with unknown reliability -maybe Toyota could do it for $5000-not cheap.
  6. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    I've been leaning towards Charlie's point of view for some time. Hybridizing a car adds considerable weight, expense and complexity, but the benefit is big enough to be worth it.

    I'm not totally convinced the same is true of PHEVs, especially with today's (or next year's) batteries. The added weight and expense on top of that already inherent in hybrids seems to provide less incremental benefit vs. the hybrids we've gotten to know so far. So far my favorite PHEV design I've seen is the VW TwinDrive, in part because it is simpler than the others while providing better ICE-drive efficiency than a series hybrid like the Volt.

    If the point it to build an all-electric commuter car, seems to me you should build an all-electric commuter car. Sure that eliminates a lot of potential buyers (those who want to do roadtrips in the same car), but compared to a BEV a PHEV needs all the complexities that come with an ICE (cooling, fuel, exhaust, ignition, the engine itself, multigeared transmission, etc.) that add tons of weight ( = more batteries!) that only hinder performance around town. The market for that is more limited, but there are still millions of families that have their roadtrip vehicle (or two) and another smaller, more FE vehicle for commuting. That's the market that automakers should be targeting with BEVs, but they must not make them 2 seaters: the families they will be targeting will still want 4 seats and 4 doors so they can transport kids to school and soccer practice safely in them.
  7. cuchulain

    cuchulain He who posts articles

    I think the problem is not with PHEVs in general but with Toyotas PHV and aftermarket conversions of the Prius i.e. Hymotion etc. There is no true EV mode with complete denial of access to the ICE. Therefore the electric motor and ICE together have just increased performance. They need to use a larger AC motor, about 80-100kW to reach the same combined 55kW+ ICE power levels as the Prius to cover the acceleration/ climbing power levels.

    Good Luck
  8. lightfoot

    lightfoot Reformed speeder

    The above three entries prompted this:

    I'd still like to see simple plug-in capability added to present hybrids, i.e., even without any increase in battery capacity.

    (1) with a built-in user-settable timer, the system could provide a fully charged, ready-to-go warmed up battery (and ICE too via an integrated block heater) to reduce both the FE "hit" during warmup and the "short-trip penalty";
    (2) the battery could be kept fully charged between uses of the vehicle;
    (3) if the car is shut down when the battery is depleted, the battery would not be left in that state (which might reduce battery life?) and then recharged by using more fuel during warmup;
    (4) the battery could be "conditioned" automatically as needed, as determined by a monitoring system.
    All of this is completely distinct from EV range extension goals. Just a way to improve the efficiency of existing gas-electric hybrids.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2009

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