A few months ago
unveiled their fleet of prototype plug-in
in Japan and some members of the media got to sample it them before the recent
Tokyo Motor Show
. The New York Times was
one of the outlets
that got to drive the PHEV Prius and while Toyota is clearly interested in evaluating the concept they don't seem to be in any rush to bring it to market. Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe stated that when PHEVs do come to market they may leap-frog past lithium ion batteries to whatever the next technology is. Given the problems that Toyota's battery partner Panasonic is having with their lithium cobalt oxide battery chemistry, it doesn't seem like much of a surprise to hear this from Toyota. However, in the near term, there doesn't appear to be any other breakthrough battery technology beyond lithium. Unless Toyota has some secret they haven't told anyone about they might want to get cracking on finding a better lithium battery if they don't want to get left behind before they can jump ahead.
[Source: New York Times]