CEO Katsuaki Watanabe was in Tokyo talking up plans to start production of lithium ion batteries at the Panasonic EV
Energy joint venture late next year, an American Toyota Exec was dampening expectations for the PHEVs in Washington. Bill Reinert, national manager of the Advanced Technology Group participated in a panel at the Google.org Plug-In Vehicle Conference. Reinert reiterated that while many plug-in proponents emphasize the potentential for 100mpg performance from PHEVs, not everyone will approach that.
Just as with current hybrid vehicles, the fuel efficiency of plug-ins will vary greatly depending on driving conditions. Reinert mentioned that acts like accelerating onto freeways and general real world driving will cut into the theoretical electric only range and the maximum mileage. This will be particularly true with so-called conversion PHEVs like the Prius, the Ford Escape and the upcoming Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid. These electric drive systems in these vehicles don't have sufficient power to propel the vehicle through the full spectrum of real world performance conditions. That means the engines will be starting up relatively frequently. Only when dedicated plug in vehicles with motors designed for full speed drive operation arrive will those kinds of mileage expectations be met more consistently. For more on this subject check out the interview we did with GM's Pete Savagian a few months ago.
[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]