Click above for a high-resolution gallery of the 2007 Toyota Prius Touring.
"The Japanese government paid for 100% of the development of the battery and hybrid system that went into the Toyota Prius, " according to Jim Press. This quote was taken from an interview conducted by Business Week which also included Chrysler LLC CEO Robert Nardelli and vice chairman Tom Lasorda.
"I can say 100 percent that Toyota received absolutely no support - no money, no grants - from the Japanese government for the development of the Prius," answers Toyota's Tokyo-based spokesman Paul Nolasco. Irv Miller echoes this sentiment on Toyota's blog.
Hmm... so Press, who worked for Toyota for 37 years, claims that Toyota received help from the government in Japan for the development of their hybrid drivetrain. Just what kind of help goes unmentioned. Toyota denies any assistance. Though Miller believes Press misspoke, Press has since added, "The Japanese government strongly supported R & D (research and development) investment in battery development, and the Prius and other Japanese models benefited from that investment." Sounds like he's not backing down from his claims, and Chrysler is doing a bit of damage control (see the company's statement after the jump).
We have no way of knowing which side is telling the truth, but we can surmise that Press would like to get some of the same treatment, if it did indeed take place, from the U.S. now that he's moved to Chrysler. Also, we wonder what the other Japanese manufacturers have to say on the subject, as they are also mentioned by Press in his later comments.
Chrysler Statement on Hybrid Battery Development
There have been several news reports today concerning statements made by Chrysler LLC Vice Chairman and President Jim Press on battery development for hybrid vehicles. First of all, Press was not speaking negatively of Toyota.
In a recent interview, he referenced the close cooperation between the Japanese government and Japanese industry. He said the Japanese government strongly supported R & D (research and development) investment in battery development, and the Prius and other Japanese models benefited from that investment in industry.
He cited this as an example of cooperation between government and industry working together on public policy issues. He went on to say that he would like to see similar cooperation in the United States in order to find technological improvements that help give U.S. companies a competitive advantage.
[Source: Business Week, Chrysler]