• Jul 18, 2009
Toyota's Bill Reinert should be better known. With so many quotable statements coming from GM's Bob Lutz and Tesla Motors' Elon Musk, perhaps Reinert, Toyota Motor Sales' national manager for the advanced technology group, is just overshadowed in the OMG series. But, during a recent conference sponsored by Fortune in Orange County, Reinert made a play to get his dramatic words out there. How dramatic? Follow the jump to read on and see exactly what he said to Automobile Magazine.
That's the first law of Disney at work--wishing will make it so. Using ethanol for fuel is like electing the dumbest kid in school as class president. As for plug-in electrics, they're just not plausible right now. Lithium-ion batteries are too expensive by at least an order of magnitude. They're not energy-dense enough. And we generate a lot of our electricity from coal. I don't think Shai [Agassi, of Better Place] is being disingenuous. I think he really believes what he's saying. I see it all the time from those Palo Alto types. They think the whole world is like a computer company, and they're always trying to recreate the dot-com economy. You see exactly the same mind-set with Tesla. It's all going to work out. It worked out with eBay. It worked out with SAP. But transportation is a different world. I mean, Shai's bragging about driving an electric RAV4 with a seventy-mile range. How many of your friends are going to buy that car?
That, friends, is just good stuff. Whaddya think? We also have audio of Reinert speaking at length on the state of the green car industry.

[Source: Automobile Magazine]


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  • 53 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      This post is proof that opinions are like body parts. This guy has one, and perhaps people think it is credible. However people who read what he says (me included) all have varying opinions on the technology being spoken about.

      None of these technologies are any good without development but all of them could be stellar in the utopian view - including gasoline. Unfortunately we don't live in utopia, and I wouldn't expect someone from the third largest producer of gasoline powered vehicles to speak positively about the future of having to spend billions of dollars on development to continue to meet customer expectations...

      That's my .02
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Shai's bragging about driving an electric RAV4 with a seventy-mile range. How many of your friends are going to buy that car?"

      Hmm.... 70 miles per charge. Seems that would work just fine as a commuter car, where I drive about 30 miles per day.

      Stop burning gas and you:
      Stop transferring wealth from this country to people that don't like us.
      Remove the need for troops in Arab states to guard/defend/control nearby nations (save US troops lives).
      Free yourself from crazy oil speculation
      Free yourself from crazy oil companies manipulating gas prices
      Are free to generate your own electricity from photovoltaics, no cartels there.
      Can think clearly, the smog is gone.
      etc... think for a bit... you'll come up with more benefits.
        • 5 Years Ago
        His point is well-taken. Only the most ardent EV advocates are going to spend $30,000 - $40,000 to buy an electric car that gets less than 100 miles per charge (under normal driving conditions).
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have been thinking and saying the same sentiments for years. How much extra energy are we using and carbon expending to build the modern car. We are building multiple airbags, computers, servos, motors, and valves to control acceleration, braking and vehicle dynamics. We have power things that I would've never thought of, like back hatches, transmission selector knobs, air vents and rear seats, etc. All this crap adds a lot of weight to a modern automobile, as a result the car uses more energy and expends more carbon to be built in the first place, accelerate to speed, maintain that speed, maintenance (tires) and be recycled in the end. Hybrids, Ethanol and the electric car are not going to solve this. We need to simplify our needs and cut the crap. The plus side? Vehicles would be a lot cheaper to build, buy and maintain.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Unfortunately much of the bloat that adds cost and decrease potential efficiency isn't just the cupholders. Its the safety and emissions requirements.
      • 5 Years Ago
      To bad Toyota/Lexus have been such ugly cars lately
      • 5 Years Ago
      He's telling it the way it is. Battery powered cars will not replace gas powered cars in our lifetime. Energy density is the issue that won't be solved anytime soon.

      Just think of the amount of energy an electric heater uses. (Or your air conditioner for that matter.) Heating your home with electrics, or running air conditioning, are the biggest impacts on your hydro bill simply because of how much electricity these things use. Your dryer, stove, and air conditioner are wired with a thick heavy cable for a reason. Just to keep the car warm in a Minnesota winter, or run the air conditioner in a Texas summer, would drain the juice out of the battery so quickly that your traveling range would be very short indeed.

      One of the beautiful things about ICE engines is that so much energy is released in detonation that not only can the waste heat from detonation cook you even in the coldest temperatures, but the energy draw from the crankshaft to the alternator has no noticeable effect on range because it is a microscopic fraction of the total mechanical energy derived from those explosions. All this is made possible because the energy density of gasoline is 46.4 MJ/KG which is 100 x that of the best lithium ion battery. (Air conditioning does effect fuel consumption because that is very energy intensive even for a gas powered car. Now imagine running your air conditioning off a battery!)
      • 5 Years Ago
      He sounds just like guys from Detroit sounded in 1985. Funny how the worm turns. Instead of being stuck in a box Detroit sounds like they have their act together (at least as far as GM is concerned on the Volt) and he sounds he's the one in the "can't do" box.
      • 5 Years Ago
      300.

      That's the number of extra people that would die because of the type of pollution ethanol engines would put out if all gas engines where replaced in LA according to one study.

      Why we let politicians even begin to decide what's "good for us", I'll never know.

      The valley in California needs electric vehicles and mass transit because of the stagnant air that keeps pollutants in the air.

      All the northern states can't use that because they need heat in the winter, electric cars fail miserably at that.

      If we could magically borrow all the trillions of dollars needed to replace all gas cars with electrics, we couldn't afford the cost to upgrade the electric grid, shut down and environmentally clean the gas distribution manufacture and distribution facilities that would have to be shut down or afford the millions of tons of waste batteries produced every year.

      It's all so stupid. When the technology is ready, and something is cheaper and better then gas powered cars, it will take over. But thats not happening for at least 40 more years.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "All the northern states can't use that because they need heat in the winter, electric cars fail miserably at that."

        That's one place where Range extended EVs like the Volt have an edge over pure electrics. The Engine will drive the vehicle at first until the system is warmed.

        "If we could magically borrow all the trillions of dollars needed to replace all gas cars with electrics, we couldn't afford the cost to upgrade the electric grid, shut down and environmentally clean the gas distribution manufacture and distribution facilities that would have to be shut down or afford the millions of tons of waste batteries produced every year."

        Firstly, no one is going to replace all cars overnight. Assuming that battery cost eventually becomes a non-factor, EVs will ease into the marketplace over decades. Simply slow battery cost reduction will make EV widespread adoption a slow process.

        Secondly charging occurs overnight. The Grid is taxed during the day thanks to typical business hours and air conditioning. In fact, utilizing that grid more at it low point, nighttime, gives electricity producers better utilization of their equipment or a better return on their investment. A better return on investment actually will reduce operating costs.

        Our electricity demands are growing now anyway. The only real problem is the constraints government regulations place on new facilities.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Keep in mind, TOYOTA has put all their eggs with NI MH batteries. They bought into NI MH batteries and invested TONS of money with the technology in buying battery companies and much more.

        It is no surprise they are against lithium ion technology.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know what you're thinking. We could build them but who would buy them. How many people would buy a reproduced Honda CRX without all this crap? I would in a heartbeat.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am a green car fan (I spend more time on Autobloggreen), but he is right.

      Ethanol is not sensible from an economic or environmental perspective. It takes a lot of energy to produce a gallon of Ethanol. But it also costs a lot in term of land use. You do save a tiny amount of C02, but figures that compare just letting a field grow wild vs planting corn and making ethanol come behind on C02 for ethanol for about the first 100 years! Then you have massive water usage from shrinking aquifers if you are not doing it in places with massive rainfall. Then you have problems from all the extra fertilizer run off. See the gulf of Mexico dead zone. Then consider how using food crops to make a subsidized fuel affects food prices. Also consider that not only does ethanol contain low energy and produce lower MPG, but every car that actually burns E85 gets horrible MPG while doing so. There is not one E85 vehicle that gets a combined 20mpg on E85.

      IMO the corporate ethanol welfare system, is the worse ongoing boondoggles we have. You can't fault anyone for speaking out against it.

      Ethanol is not green, it is not economical, it is a farce of epic proportions. Unfortunately it isn't a harmless farce.

      Plug ins/BEVs. We aren't there yet because of the cost and energy density of batteries. That is a fact. BUT unlike ethanol. Electrics only real downside is cost. If you have money to spend on it. Go electric, you are helping with our energy import issues and environmental issues and not driving up the cost of food or killing life in the oceans etc .... that you would be with Ethanol.



      • 5 Years Ago
      YES!! Finally!! Someone with the guts to say it like it is (I love the ethanol analogy lol).. I am sooo sick of these clueless people saying that ethanol and electric vehicles are going to save the world.. Bravo Bill!
      • 5 Years Ago
      The electric car would make a fantastic 2nd car for many people. I don't care if the electricity comes from coal, nuclear, or wind as long as it saves me money. If we cared about cutting pollution, we'd start with things that really pollute like personal jets and unregulated cargo barges. Series hybrids are absolutely the way to go. One of the benefits no one seems to hit on is the reduction of drivetrain complexity (motors on wheels). It should be alot easier to maintain a gas generator with electric motors and batteries.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Calvin Azzola:

        > I don't care if the electricity comes from coal,
        > nuclear, or wind as long as it saves me money.

        Assumptions:
        1. Fuel price = 7$/gallon
        2. Chevrolet Volt is driven on all electric mode only.
        3. Charging costs are ignored.
        4. 2010 Toyota Prius III = ~20k USD, 50 mpg
        5. 2011 Chevrolet Volt = ~40k USD, 20k more than the Prius
        6. Volt Battery replacement costs are ignored.
        7. Costs of financing are ignored.


        Year/ Mileage covered / cash saved on driving the Volt under assumptions above instead of the Prius III

        Year 01 = 15000 miles = 2100$ saved
        Year 02 = 30000 miles = 4200$ saved
        Year 03 = 45000 miles = 6300$ saved
        Year 04 = 60000 miles = 8400$ saved
        Year 05 = 75000 miles = 10500$ saved
        Year 06 = 90000 miles = 12600$ saved
        Year 07 = 105000 miles = 14700$ saved
        Year 08 = 120000 miles = 16800$ saved
        Year 09 = 135000 miles = 18900$ saved
        Year 10 = 150000 miles = 21000$ saved

        10 years just to recoup initial costs under "pie in the sky" assumptions.

        Now, fuel is not 7$ per gallon, you won't drive a plug-in hybrid in 100% electric mode, charging costs money, the more deeply charged/discharged plug-in hybrid battery will likely have much shorter life than those in hybrids (they just use 10% of their capacity to prolong life) and you have to finance the 40k$ purchase. On the plus side, Volt maintenance and repairs should cost much less. But then, Priuses are also painfully durable.

        Yes, I know about foreign oil imports, domestic electricity, shifting emissions outside cities etc etc. But an Average Joe only knows about his wallet. Unemployment in the USA is 15%. Anyone fancy a 40k compact car?

        I'm all for plug-in hybrids and just can't wait for them but Reinert IS FREAKING RIGHT. Current Li-Ion chemistry is too expensive by at least an order of magnitude. There is a reason why all those electric cars and plug-in hybrids are vaporware now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Am I the only person that thought that was Steven Spielberg at first glance?

      :-X
        • 5 Years Ago
        i thought the same before i read the title. and no he wouldnt pass for al franklan
        • 5 Years Ago
        Al Franken
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