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The race for the first car company to use lithium-ion battery is over. Toyota won. Someone owes Don Esmond, the VP the bet Toyota would be first to market with lithium-ion, $100. Why? In Japan, Toyota has been selling Priuses Vitzes with lithium-ion batteries as part of an "intelligent package" since 2003. Why didn't they say anything in August when everyone questioned rumors of a delay? Actually, they did; It's buried in paragraph 12 of this Toyota blog post. Toyota, don't be so modest next time and why isn't this in the US?
The intelligent package costs 1.17 million yen ($10,200), about 100,000 yen ($870) more than standard models according to Toyota Executive Vice President Masatami Takimoto. They are available in very small numbers, about 10 cars a month and Toyota does not tell anyone but dealers do have the cars, buyers can ask for them and get them. What's the improvement in mileage? The lithium-ion Pirus Vitz get 25 kilometers a liter (60 miles a gallon), in Japanese testing, versus 22 kilometers a liter (53 miles a gallon) for the non-intelligent package, according to Toyota.

If I were GM, I would be very nervous right now because Toyota apparently has four years of real world data on hybrids Vitzes using lithium-ion batteries. If I were a consumer, I might be interested. Would you pay $10,000 $870 for 7 more miles per gallon?

Update: The cars with lithium-ion batteries is the Vitz not the Prius. Vitz is technically not a hybrid because the battery is never used to drive the car.

Related:
[Source: Associated Press and tipster Peter]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 14 Comments
      • 1 Month Ago
      Is that $10,000 more for the 7mpg increase? or are you already paying a premium for the Hybrids and simply paying an extra $870 to gain 7mpgs more?
      • 1 Month Ago
      Ping, Thanks. Corrected. Could I make any more mistakes in this article? Duh!
      • 1 Month Ago
      Throwback, Corrected, thanks.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Matthijs, The article was updated.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Using a small lithium battery in a “mild hybrid”/start-stop application hardly compares to a PHEV application. The lithium ion battery in the TOY Vitz probably NEVER gets discharged below a certain amount, nor is ever subjected to heavy charging or discharging. Thus, it’s not subjected to the problems that a larger pack would encounter (heat buildup, decreased cycle life, etc). So how toy’s engineers expect to translate the data they get from the Vitz into meaningful predictions for plug-ins is - for the moment- completely beyond me.

      Until we hear specifics about whatever chemistry they are using, Toyota effectively has nothing to compare with the batteries of CPI/LGChem, A123, or Johnson Controls/Saft, all of which are GM contractors.
      • 1 Month Ago
      $10,000 for 7 more mpg, I'll pass. The article states they use metal hydride batteries in their hybrids. The Lithium battery is in a Vitz (Scion xA?) which I do not believe is a hybrid.
      • 1 Month Ago
      "Would you pay $10,000 for 7 more miles per gallon?"

      according to the article, the option with the Lithium-ion battery costs an extra $870, not $10,000.

      Standard Vitz = $9330
      Vitz with Lithium-Ion Batteries = $10,200
      • 1 Month Ago
      Oh! Those Toyota people are so so smart. How can GM compete with such smart people. GM would do well in recognizing that fact. Those Japanese are superior in intellect and there is no way we American can beat them.
      I would venture you are a fairly young person who does not know the history of how the Japanese got where their at today. Please click on this link and get a little history of Japan and then, read some of the history of our great American companies.

      http://www.uwsa.com/issues/trade/japanyes.html
      • 1 Month Ago
      Correct me if i'm wrong, but it seems that what Toyota is doing with this particular version of the Vitz/Yaris is their take on the (non-hybrid) stop-start system that BMW and its MINI division have just launched, but using a lithium-ion battery.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Can this article be any more wrong? The writer changed "quietly selling" to "secretly selling" when rehashing the original story, called a Vitz with idle-stop a Prius hybrid, and neglected to spend five minutes on Google and find out that this "news" has been out for years.
      • 1 Month Ago
      Interesting article.

      However, the article DOESN'T say that it costs 10k more, it says it costs $800 something more.
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