• Mar 6, 2008
Much has been made of the fact that Toyota is seemingly behind General Motors and other manufacturers in the race to adopt lithium-ion batteries as the future battery of the hybrid and electric vehicle market. Lithium-ion batteries pack more energy into less space than nickel metal hydride batteries, which are the current industry standard in hybrids. Could this delay in the adoption of lithium ion technology be because they have something better up their corporate sleeves for the next-next Prius? According to reports from Japan, Toyota may be investing in zinc-air batteries, which are currently popular only in your grandpa's hearing-aid. If the rumors are true, these new batteries would make up a big chunk of Toyota's plan on offering a hybrid version of every car it sells by 2020. In the meantime, expect to see lithium-ion batteries in future Toyota hybrid models until it's ready to unveil its newest battery technology, whatever that may be.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]



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  • 19 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I read about GM`s hybrid system contained in it`s transmission in popular mechanics back in the 1980`s.
      Funny how everthing after the wheel Toyota gets credit for inventing.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Technically, Audi has some one-off Quattro hybrids in the early 90s. There have also been small-volume hybrids before that, going back as far as the start of the 20th century. Toyota is definitely not the first--no one's disputing that.

        Now, the point here is that Toyota actually sells millions of them to regular people. Not concepts or engineering studies (which is what you're crediting GM with), one-offs (like the aforementioned Quattro) or boutique cars (like the Insight), but actual, no-comprise production cars that normal people have been driving every day. That, and the fact that they've been doing so since 1997, is the real achievement here.

        Saying that Toyota doesn't deserve credit because it isn't the first hybrid maker is like saying Ford wasn't the first automaker. It's true, but it's a gross oversimplification. It's also sour grapes.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Look, inventing is one thing. The hard part of getting a car to market is to make it actually reliable and functional and AFFORDABLE. The affordability part might actually be the hardest part of all.

        Almost any car company can throw enough man hours and time at a car and build a complicated hybrid, or a high output v12, or whatever. The really hard part is to make it cheap enough for people to buy, and make it reliable so you don't have to eat tons of warranty dollars.

        So great, you read about it in popular mechanics 20 years ago. Hey I read about how we'd have flying cars in popular mechanics 20 years ago, but that's not on the market either. The fact that Toyota managed to put a hybrid system in a CONSUMER vehicle TEN YEARS AGO, is a HUGE deal. The fact that the car is actually affordable? That's a big deal too. The Prius currently sells for around $20K, while GM's nonexistent Volt is already creeping up in price ridiculously even though it isn't even on the market.

        Even the Civic hybrid can't compete in price against the Prius and it gets worse mileage and has less space, and that's at least one of the things hurting it's sales. It makes NO SENSE that a hybrid buyer would buy a car that gets worse mileage and is more cramped for more money. People claim it's because the Prius is so darn unique looking, but if the Civic got better mileage and was $2000 cheaper than the Prius you can bet that it'd sell like hotcakes too.

        Theoretically inventing something that exists as a prototype is one thing. I mean we can build all kinds of crazy cool stuff, bullet trains, fighter jets, etc. That doesn't mean that it'd be easy to make a fighter jet that cost $20K. THAT is the difference between having invented a prototype hybrid drivetrain in the 80's, and actually bringing a hybrid car to market.

        BTW? GM isn't the only manufacturer that had a hybrid powertrain designed in the 80's.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Lithium Ion batteries are INHERENTLY VOLATILE. Hello, laptop and cell phone recalls. I am VERY glad Toyota didn't use them in the next-gen Prius and is looking for something else to use down the road.
      • 6 Years Ago
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      • 6 Years Ago
      WOW! SPELL CHECK
      • 6 Years Ago
      You can only be behind or ahead for what you've already implemented/adopted.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Exactly. How in the world Jeremy Korzeniewski came to a conclusion that Toyota is behind i'll never know. On the other hand................................................word fanboy comes to mind.
      HotRodzNKustoms
      • 6 Years Ago
      How can a company that laughs at GM's tech for being pie in the sky be pursuing next gen flying pie tech? That's all I have to say about that.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Japanese car companies hold less than 6 Patents.
      Almost all automotive patents are shared between GM, Mercedes Benz and Ford. Almost all..

      Toyota was never an innovater. Even their Hybrid system was stolen from a Florida company. They lost the case.
      Here is the link
      http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aS2X9oQ9QIng

        • 6 Years Ago
        Prius alone has over 450 patents. Why do you think others are having difficulty coming to market with anything like it!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Note that the post never says Toyota is behind in hybrid technology. It says that they are "seemingly behind" in battery technology. Did you follow the links? If not, you should check them to see why the article was written the way that it was.
      • 6 Years Ago
      WHEN (not if) the Volt hits the road, Toyota's parallel system will be seen for what it is - a nice step in the history of hybrids which was leapfrogged by a better series hybrid system.
      Before you start typing "fanboy", our family has a Prius (and yes, they ARE ugly)
      • 6 Years Ago
      I concur what both of you just stated,shame on you autoblog! stupid editors.
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