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Toyota Prius, Hybrid Cars, Car Buying, Hatchback, Sedan
#287 of 311 swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future
Jan 13, 2009 (7:17 am)
VERY COOL news
This is very cool news.
Today at the North American International Automotive Show, in Detroit, Toyota announced that later this year, it will release a version of the Prius hybrid car whose battery can be recharged from an ordinary power outlet. By moving up the delivery data of the plug-in vehicle--originally scheduled for 2010--Toyota has slipped ahead of GM, whose Chevy Volt plug-in is promised for late 2010.
Toyota's fidelity to hybrid technology marks a sharp contrast with rivals such as Renault and Mitsubishi, which are planning to leapfrog the hybrid in favor of fully battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs). At the auto show, several U.S. automakers appear to be leaning in the same direction, with Ford Motor, in particular, vowing to release an EV commercial van next year and an EV commuter car in 2011.
Even Toyota is hedging its bets, presenting a battery-powered EV based on its four-seat iQ and promising to begin selling a similar EV commuter car in the United States by 2012. But Toyota explicitly ruled out abandoning hybrid technology anytime soon, issuing a definitive statement on the eve of the Detroit show calling hybrids its "long-term core powertrain technology."
The 2010 Prius available to consumers will still come equipped with a nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery pack and no plug, but Toyota says that it is "plug-in ready"--designed and engineered to accept a lighter and more energy-dense lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged from the grid. Toyota will also produce 500 lithium-powered plug-in Priuses for its commercial and government leasing customers starting later this year. Toyota-Panasonic joint venture Panasonic EV Energy will supply the lithium batteries.
The fact that the plug-in battery pack can be swapped in for an ordinary hybrid battery suggests that it will be relatively small, and that the plug-in Priuses will have a smaller electric-only range than the Volt and the Chinese-built BYD F3DM. The plug-in vehicles that Toyota has been testing in Japan, France, California, and the United Kingdom are Priuses equipped with a second NiMH battery pack that gives them less than 10 miles of electric-only range.
#288 of 311 Re: swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future [larsb]
Jan 13, 2009 (8:29 am)
Yes I agree wholeheartedly.
It is clear that Toyota ( and Honda and Ford ) have decided to stick to a strategy of selling high volume affordable hybrids to a wide range of clients. These 3 were the first to market and they've staked out their claims to the center where the largest volumes are. This is the place where the most potential profits are located and where they have the best opportunity to maintain a significant presence.
The other makers now have to maneuver around these first three somehow. GM is trying to outflank them with it's E-Flex and the Volt but IMO it's longshot and very risky. While GM can end up making a spectacular vehicle how many can actually step up and buy one. In the meanwhile Toyota/Honda/Ford will be selling much much greater volumes of hybrids and actually generating cash rewards.
#290 of 311 Re: swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future [kdhspyder]
Jan 17, 2009 (6:57 am)
So what has Toyota done to improve the poor handling inherent with the older version of the Prius? The new one is essentially the same size with a fraction of a second better 0-60 MPH. We won't know about the MPG until a few people start reporting. Are you going to upgrade that old beat up one of yours. I think you have gotten your monies worth out of it. Do you think Toyota will start shipping the new ones until they sell down the huge inventory of the 08 & 09s sitting on the lots. I would be curious if the dealers are having people drive them every 3-4 weeks to protect the batteries.
I don't think you will get any new converts to the 2010 Prius. It looks essentially the same and will appeal to the same crowd. It is hard to argue with the fact that people that have them love them.
I'm still waiting for the plug-in Sequoia Hybrid that gets 42 MPG combined. California will get their way with the new EPA and that is the mandate for fleet mileage. I need to get my last final diesel SUV before the curtain falls.
#291 of 311 Re: swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future [gagrice]
Jan 17, 2009 (1:13 pm)
Just hit 100,000 mi in 37 mo's. Only got 150,000 left to go... My buddy who also posts here just hit 226,000 miles on it's 5th anniversay...when he gave me his order for Prius No 3. He wants the first one we get as long as it's black and doesn't have leather.
It appears that the frame is underpinned by a tubular stabilzer and it runs on wider tires. There is also an option for even wider lower-profile 17" tires. The peak of the roof is moved back over the back seat. The vehicle is about 100# heavier with a larger engine and a few additional amenitites on the standard versions.
The big difference is that is will be somewhat quicker and go from 46 mpg EPA combined to about 50 mpg EPA comined. They went with the larger engine to make it more capable in fuel efficiency at the highway at higher US-Interstate-type speeds. The 1.8L is better mated to the size and weight of the vehicle than the 1.5L was.
The additional drivetrain features ( EV, ECON, PWR ) will only improve the power or the fuel economy.
#292 of 311 Re: swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future [gagrice]
Jan 17, 2009 (1:21 pm)
We're the largest seller of the hybrids in our market by a factor of 3 or 4. They continue to move, just slower, thanks for your concern . Actually we had about 30 a month ago but that's down to about 8 now. But like every other survivor we're just looking to cut inventory as well as fixed costs. I'm guessing that this will be the strategy throughout all of 2009. If GM's recent estimate is accurate then instead of 16 MM units we may be approaching 10 MM units.....with a 3 MM unit inventory carryover... bad juju there. That means that production may only reach 7-8 MM units in 2009.
2009 is going to be a downer for everyone in every product line.
#293 of 311 Re: swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future [kdhspyder]
Jan 17, 2009 (3:31 pm)
That is about one a day. I would say that is better than most dealers out here. I used that new View Inventory feature here on Edmunds. It listed 259 Prius at the 8 dealers here in San Diego. Seems like a lot. Maybe it is not that many. I do not see any 2008 models left so that is better than a lot of dealers. Mossy has a Prius listed at $18,314 MSRP. I did not think they had any under $20k. Are they getting ready to compete with the Insight?
#294 of 311 Re: swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future [gagrice]
Jan 18, 2009 (10:41 am)
I don't think that the new Prius is going to compete directly against the Insight II very much, they're directed toward two different demographic segements. The Insight II is a Honda Fit with a $1500 hybrid option. It's a level or two below the Prius in size, amenities, performance and fuel economy.
But...it should be a huge hit because it will fall right in the sweetest part of the buying public's vision. At $18500 to $20500 it will appeal to a lot of buyers who have passed on the hybrids up until now. I think that it will do more damage to vehicles like the Corolla, Mazda3, Focus, Cobalt and non-hybrid Civic in this price range because it will get a real world 42-43 mpg day-in and day-out. That's well above the 33-ish mpg that those other non-hybrids get. The vehicle is very very tight in back. But I haven't driven one yet and nobody except the reviewers has even seen one.
#295 of 311 Re: swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future [kdhspyder]
Jan 18, 2009 (11:14 am)
Since Honda doesn't offer a hatchback Civic in the U.S. and the Insight LX is reported to start "well under $18k", I think the car the Insight could do the most damage to sales-wise is the Civic. Then next, the Fit, which in base trim with AT is less than $2000 lower than the Insight LX.
I do think some people will cross-shop both the Insight and Prius, just because they are looking for a hybrid hatchback that can seat at least 2 kids in back. I will probably shop both when I get our next long term car in 3-4 years. It remains to be seen whether that cross-shopping will happen in any numbers and if there will be any price pressure on the base price of the Prius because of it.
#296 of 311 Re: swap-out for Li-Ion batteries in the future [kdhspyder]
Jan 18, 2009 (11:43 am)
kdhspyder wrote: The Insight II is a Honda Fit with a $1500 hybrid option.
This is not quite true. The Insight II is larger than the Fit by 11" in overall length and 2" in wheelbase. It has a completely different body also.
The rear seat is where the Prius vs. Insight show the greatest difference in size with the Prius offering mid-size rear seat room and the Insight is clearly compact.
I believe the Insight will bleed off significant Prius sales with it's $6K price advantage. Overall performance is similar and real world MPG will likely be very close.
The areas the Prius beats the Insight is one level in size (only an issue if you regularly carry 3 people or more) and amenities (which for $6K in the 2009 economy is hard to justify).
Honda has beaten Toyota in this new game. While Toyota's refinement will pay off with some buyers, I bet most will opt for the true value that this Honda offers.