In a wide-ranging statement on its future, Toyota has announced that it will bring a plug-in extended range Prius to market by the end of this year, will introduce as many as ten completely new hybrids by the early 2010s, and will bring a fully electric car to market in 2012.
Irv Miller, Toyota’s Vice President of Environmental and Public Affairs, had this to say about the announcement:
“Last summer’s four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline was no anomaly. It was a brief glimpse of our future. We must address the inevitability of peak oil by developing vehicles powered by alternatives to liquid-oil fuel, as well as new concepts, like the iQ, that are lighter in weight and smaller in size. This kind of vehicle, electrified or not, is where our industry must focus its creativity.”
As a proof of concept, Toyota will debut a fully electric vehicle during media days at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. The electric car concept, named FT-EV, shares its platform with the iQ urban commuter vehicle. Already on sale in Japan, the non-electric iQ is lightweight and seats four passengers, while delivering very high mileage. Rumors have indicated that the non-electric iQ will eventually make it to the US as a Scion.
Along with the announcement of the electric concept, Toyota has reiterated that, although the fully electric car will be a part of their overall strategy, the company sees conventional non-plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, like the current Prius, as their core long-term powertrain technology.
To meet the company goal of selling one million conventional gas-electric hybrids by the early 2010s, Toyota also indicated that they will roll out as many as 10 of these types of vehicles in the next few years. They say that the new third-generation Toyota Prius and all new Lexus HS250h, both debuting in Detroit, are the first two examples of that effort.
And, in a new development, Toyota says they are moving up the roll-out schedule for the upcoming plug-in hybrid Prius from 2010 to late 2009. Initially only available to fleets, the car will sport a lithium-ion battery. Toyota says that the new generation Prius was engineered to be able to accommodate either a NiMH battery for the conventional gas-electric hybrid or a lithium-ion battery for the plug-in version.
Apparently, the Prius plug-in fleet program is a test run before releasing plug-in hybrids to the general consumer. As Miller said:
“Future customers will have high expectations for these emerging technologies. This Prius PHV fleet program is a key first step in confirming how and when we might bring large numbers of plug-in hybrids to global markets.”
Image Credit: Toyota
Source: Press Release