Toyota to Launch Prius Plug-in by 2012 in all Major Markets

By dancurranjr On December 24th, 2010

“Green Thinking” and development of nature friendly hybrid cars in the coming years is going to become a top priority for all the automakers. So says the Japanese company Toyota, which is one of the pioneers in the field of ‘green’ cars and is planning to bring hybrid car Prius by 2012 in a big way.

Now, while evaluating the results of this year, it is evident that Toyota has made huge investments in the development of innovative, and nature friendly technologies. In order to explore vast potentials of eco-cars, the company has set before it a large number of tasks for the next two years.

By the end of 2012, the world should see 11 brand new and updated hybrid models. Also in 2012, the company plans to begin intensive selling of Prius Plug-in model simultaneously in Europe, Japan and the U.S.: it is estimated that they will be able to sell about 50 thousand cars per year. In 2015, Toyota plans to release a model with a hydrogen engine mounted under the hood. Next year 2011, for strengthening the positive image of alternative technologies, Toyota iQ (in the electric version) will be included in the European program of road tests.

This year, as in the past, Toyota continues to develop new technologies. One of the promising areas is its development of new generation of batteries, which by their performance will be much better than the currently available lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are now being used in Toyota Prius Plug-in models. By the way, in order to evaluate the use of new generation of batteries in the automotive industry, earlier this year the company created a special organizational unit, bringing together a team of 100 people.

Toyota’s management is confident that eco-cars can have a positive effect on the state of nature, only if they would be used by maximum possible people in the world. Moreover, if the demand will be higher, more people will opt for the cars with new technologies thereby eventually leading to lowers costs.

SOURCE: Seer

First GM Volts and Nissan Leafs Delivered

By dancurranjr On December 19th, 2010

Just a couple of weeks after GM had originally planned, customers are starting to receive the new Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid that uses battery power for 35 miles, before a gasoline generator kicks in to extend the car’s range. The first to get the car is a retired airline pilot, who picked up his Volt today in New Jersey.

He traded in his old Toyota Prius, which could perhaps be read as a ceremonial changing of the guard as GM bests Toyota to the plug-in hybrid market. But it also makes one wonder how much the new car will hurt sales of existing hybrids, rather than the market for gas guzzling cars. GM shipped the first 360 Volts to California, Texas, Washington DC, and New York this week.

Last Friday, the first Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car with an estimated range per charge of 73 miles, was delivered to an entrepreneur in California. His last vehicle was an electric bike.

SOURCE: Technology Reviews

GM CEO Calls Toyota Prius a Geek-Mobile, Touts Chevrolet Volt

By dancurranjr On December 16th, 2010

The chief executive officer of General Motors used a public appearance Friday to slam the Toyota Prius hybrid, calling the car a “geek-mobile” that he would never want to drive.

The comment by Dan Akerson, who recently took the reins at GM, was partly a tough-talking way to focus attention on his own company’s new electric offering, the Chevrolet Volt.

But the fighting words may also have been a way to say, loudly, that GM is standing tall again. After going through bankruptcy, a government bailout, and a bruising battle with Toyota over which will be the world’s top carmaker, Mr. Akerson’s tone is as important as his specific words.

GM is back on offense.

Taking a page from some execs in the high-tech industry, Akerson bluntly disparaged a rival’s product.

“We commonly refer to the geek-mobile as the Prius. And I wouldn’t be caught dead in a Prius,” Akerson said at the Economic Club of Washington, as reported by Associated Press. Speaking of the Chevy Volt, he added: “This actually looks good.”

GM bills the plug-in Volt, soon to arrive in showrooms, as the “world’s first electric vehicle with extended range capability.”

The Volt faces competition not only from gas-elecric hybrids like the Prius, but also from the fully electric Nissan Leaf.

In his speech, Akerson focused on GM’s comeback trail since the financial crisis and the related plunge in US auto sales.

At the beginning of December, the company said sales of its four core brands, collectively, are up 22 percent so far this year, compared with the same 11 months in 2009. Progress has come in all categories: cars, trucks, and “crossover” sport-utility vehicles.

GM has also made progress toward exiting from a government bailout, raising money recently with a stock offering that moves it toward ownership by private-sector investors and a trust for retired assembly line workers. Akerson used the podium in the nation’s capital to thank US taxpayers for helping the company survive.

Akerson said the company still faces a challenge retaining top talent and called for an end to executive-pay caps that the government has imposed on companies recieving federal bailouts.

Toyota, for its part, sold 4,400 fewer vehicles in the US in November than it did during the same month last year. Although Toyota still rivals GM for leadership in the global car market, recall woes have slowed its advance.

In the US, Toyota ranks third in sales, with 15 percent of the market this year compared with 19 percent for GM and 16.5 percent for Ford.

Whatever Akerson thinks of the Prius, it still has some fans. Toyota sold 10,224 Prius units last month, up 2 percent from last November. By comparison, GM had only four models that sold 10,000 or more units in November, all from Chevy: the Malibu, Impala, Equinox, and Silverado.

SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor

Prius Contributes to UK Low Transport Plans

By dancurranjr On December 15th, 2010

Car finance buyers looking to improve their carbon footprint might be interested in the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

The motor has qualified for the government’s ultra-low carbon vehicle grant scheme, which gives people purchasing a green motor up to £5,000 to help with the cost.

In addition, the automobile is able to run on its lithium-ion battery for up to 12.5 miles and can do 62 mph without emitting tailpipe emissions and with zero fuel consumption.

Jon Williams, Toyota managing director, welcomed the car’s acceptance into the initiative, saying the brand has been recognised as having the potential to make a “valuable contribution” to the UK’s low transport plans.

He added: “Toyota is committed to developing sustainable low emissions mobility and Prius Plug-in marks an important step in our environmental leadership, delivering exceptional emissions and fuel performance in urban driving.”

Last month, the manufacturer celebrated delivering its 20 millionth vehicle in Europe.

SOURCE: Car Loan 4U

More Major Companies On-Board For Future Green Vehicles

By dancurranjr On December 11th, 2010

Every major automaker plans some sort of electric or plug-in hybrid offering over the next several years, a wave of competing technologies reminiscent of the beginning of the automobile age.

General Motors Co. this month will start shipping its Chevrolet Volt, which uses a gas engine to generate electricity when the batteries run out. It will be available for sale in California in December. Next week, Nissan Motor Co., whose North American headquarters are based in Franklin, will launch its Leaf, which is powered only by batteries.

Ford will come out with an all-electric version of its Focus compact car next year.

In November, the Japanese automaker Toyota became the latest to unveil a pure electric vehicle, the RAV4 compact crossover, showing it off at the Los Angeles auto show. It’s scheduled to go on sale sometime in 2012.

In Middle Tennessee, Nissan will spend more than $1 billion to build a lithium-ion battery plant and add a Leaf assembly line at its Smyrna manufacturing complex for the Leaf, with production to begin there in late 2012.

Until then, the company will import Leafs from a plant in Japan that has limited capacity, which means the vehicles will be in short supply until the Smyrna operation goes online.

Others planning to introduce electrics over the next two years include Fiat, Honda, Mitsubishi, Smart and Mini.

“Electric vehicles are finally real and not an R&D project,” said Mark Sogomian, a partner at Ernst & Young.

SOURCE: The Tennessean