Toyota wants hybrids across the board, remains dubious of plug-ins

Speaking at this week's Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI, Toyota advanced powertrain program manager Justin Ward reiterated the company's plans to offer hybrid drive systems in every one of its model lines by the end of the next decade. Toyota already has more vehicles with hybrid systems than anyone else, but will need next-generation systems to support larger vehicles like the Tundra pickup, assuming it is still building full-size trucks in 2020. On the subject of fuel cell systems, Ward described the progress the company has made on efficiency (and hence range) as well as performance and durability. However, cost and durability issues still have a way to go and there is the whole issue of hydrogen production and distribution.
On the topic of plug-in vehicles, Ward showed a healthy dose of skepticism. According to Ward, in spite of studies showing that 70 percent of commutes are less than 40 miles per day, having plug-ins with a range of only 40 miles would only cover about 35 percent of total miles traveled. The energy required to charge plug-in vehicles also poses problems. Plug-in proponents point to most vehicles being plugged in at night and taking advantage of off-peak generation and lower costs. Ward told his audience that a study of night time generation indicates that the vast majority of it comes from coal fired power plants. Until carbon sequestration becomes mainstream at power plants the use of coal generated electricity, regardless of time of day won't have as much impact on CO 2 as plug-in advocates would like.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]

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