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