Automotive News reports that Toyota is preparing a statement for a congressional hearing on the progress of EVs, the results of which could influence legislation that gives a big $7,500 tax credit to any hybrid with a battery pack rated at 6 kilowatt-hours of electricity or more. Toyota argues that the legislation is too restrictive and redefines what a hybrid is since the only vehicle eligible (that we know about) would be the 2011 Chevy Volt with its 16 killowatt-hour battery pack, though Toyota never calls out the series hybrid by name.
For reference, the current Toyota Prius uses a battery pack that generates 1.3 killowatt-hour, and judging by the Japanese automaker's reaction to this legislation, we doubt that its plug-in hybrid electric Prius currently under development uses a battery pack powerful enough, either. Nevertheless, there could be other hybrids being developed besides the Volt that would be eligible, which would poke a big hole in Toyota's argument. Also, as AutoblogGreen points out, this legislation will likely change many times before it becomes law.
The government is right, however, to put higher restrictions on what is eligible for a tax credit of this size. Current hybrid tax credits have topped out around $3,000, with the largest on record being for the Prius itself at $3,150. If the government is considering offering more than twice that amount for future hybrids, then we think it's fair they raise the bar on what should be eligible.
[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]