My fiance and my parents are both in the market for a new car, and they both want the Prius. Too bad, I told them, because there's a global shortage of nickel-metal hydride batteries that's crippling the supply of Toyota's feel good go machine. I didn't bother telling them that the Prius is essentially a relatively old vehicle by today's standards and that new green machines like the series hybrid Chevy Volt and plug-in versions of the Saturn Vue Green Line and Ford Escape Hybrid are right around the corner. While the next-gen Prius is also right around corner (should debut in January at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, but will reportedly still use NiMH batteries), Toyota recently gave its word that it would also have a plug-in hybrid vehicle using lithium-ion batteries on sale in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2010. That's a bold claim, as few manufacturers have been so confident that production-viable li-ion batteries will be ready by then (General Motors being the notable exception). Toyota has partnered with electronics giant Matsushita, however, and their joint-venture will begin producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 and ramp up to full production in 2010. Other than that, we know very little about Toyota's 2010 plug-in hybrid, other than that it should get great gas mileage. Toyota also announced that it's setting up a battery research department to develop a new type of battery that can even outperform li-ions. The point is, I'm not going to let my friends and family buy a Prius right now, or any other hybrid for that matter. There's too much next-gen green technology that's right on our door step, and when these green 2.0 vehicles arrive, the Prius will appear downright dirty by comparison.
[Source: The Detroit Free Press]

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