Honda Nixes PHEVs; Toyota Retreats on PHEVs; Nissan/Honda Tout EVs

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Three carmakers in today on PHEVs with new

The big development is Honda’s latest echoed by Renault-Nissan: don’t ask us to PHEVs; the engine is unnecessary: for us to build EVs. By the way, only theoretically in favor of EVs. (Note CEO Takeo careful comment Assuming we can come up with a really battery that we are working on in other words, trust

At a time when battery is a big issue, this is a re-hash of the prognosis we got five years ago almost everyone except and Toyota: we won’t build because they suffer the complexity of two systems. And it’s strongly reminiscent many 1990s stance: don’t ask us to the emissions on our cars, they’re Soon we’ll all be driving cell cars — where we’re spending all our money.

The throw-away line Fukui, I don’t think would contribute to the global to reduce [global warming emissions, is simply inexcusable so many engineering reports and studies.

Toyota’s comments a significant retreat from its only a few months ago. project general manager Asakura says the company believe that customers want to plug in. (Where that leave Honda and who are now claiming they favor US Toyota’s advanced technology Bill Reinert says the company will have to the same price for its mass-produced as after-market companies selling of cars. and asks how much people will pay for a PHEV: As it happens, there’s only one way to get an to that question, but Toyota do that.

Who will rescue us these convoluted excuses and Could it be GM’s Volt? companies that come in the radar? A rapid expansion and in prices of conversions?

Or maybe and Audi. stay tuned!


By the for years, it was hard to get the Wall Journal to pay attention to PHEVs and The break came in January with the launch of Plug-In and the gradual evolution of automakers’ Now we see three stories in one day, by automotive reporter Norihiko and Detroit bureau chief White, plus a somewhat story they wrote

We include most of all three below.

Honda Won’t Plug-in Hybrids


October 23, 2007 6:45

Write to Norihiko Shirouzu

Japan — Honda Co. Chief Executive Takeo said so-called plug-in gasoline-electric vehicles offered too few benefits for his company to pursue, and that an advanced hybrid called the Chevrolet Volt General Motors Corp. is to launch in a few years made sense.

If Honda was able to up with low-cost, safe and lithium-ion batteries, the Japanese hinted Honda would use them for an electric vehicle.

My is that the kind of plug-in currently proposed by different makers can be best described as a electric vehicle equipped an unnecessary fuel engine and tank, Mr. Fukui told a of journalists Tuesday at the company’s and development center here, of Tokyo. He said he was referring to hybrids such as the Chevy

Assuming that we can come up a really high-performing battery we are working on currently, I think a electric vehicle [that such battery technology] actually be a plus from an point of view.

Mr. Fukui’s comments about an early of lithium-ion batteries to realize a like the Volt followed a guarded view outlined this week by Toyota Corp. (See related

Japan’s No. 1 auto maker on noted that it is taking a approach to developing plug-in electric vehicles, and mapped out a cautious strategy than GM for using lithium-ion batteries to hybrid cars for longer on electricity alone.

GM, in a series of announcements, has said it plans to an advanced hybrid vehicle the Chevrolet Volt to the U.S. by as early as 2010. The Volt shown by GM at the Detroit auto earlier this year use lithium-ion batteries to operate for as as 40 miles on electricity alone. GM has the Volt concept and its aggressive as part of a broader effort to its image as an auto industry technology leader.

Toyota on Monday poured cold on some of GM’s claims for its technology, as did Honda’s Mr. Fukui The executives said Toyota is that many customers may not a plug-in hybrid electric car has to be recharged every day, the enthusiasm for the plug-in hybrid from environmental groups and a relatively small group of enthusiasts.

On Tuesday, Mr. Fukui stressed could easily develop a hybrid within two years. But I think that would to the global environment, to reduce warming gas] emissions, he

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly now to power laptop computers and small consumer appliances. But lithium-ion laptop batteries been blamed recently for a number of fires. Auto executives have expressed about the tendency of lithium-ion to overheat, and GM has said it is reviewing a of different lithium-ion technologies settling on batteries for the Volt.

Cautious Green Strategy

Maker Takes Tentative On New Fuel-Sipping Technologies


October 23, 2007; Page A12

City, Japan

Toyota Corp. outlined a more strategy than General Corp. for a new generation of fuel-efficient signaling the differing approaches the auto makers are taking to to long-term concerns over oil and climate change.


Strategies: Toyota, which a cleaner image thanks to its hybrid, is taking a more approach than rival GM on the generation of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Thinking: The car maker questions current technology can deliver cars that offer better fuel efficiency.

The A resurgent GM, which is challenging effort to become the world’s No. 1 maker (left), hopes to more of the market for fuel-efficient

The Japanese auto giant ceded a bit of ground to its Detroit in its effort to become the world’s auto maker. Toyota its global sales in the July-September rose 4% from a year to 2.34 million vehicles. GM, for the No. 1 auto maker by output, 2.39 million vehicles the same period.

For the first months of the year, GM sold million vehicles, versus 7.05 million.

Toyota has a leading role in the auto with surging global growth and leading market for more-fuel-efficient gasoline-electric hybrid like the Toyota Prius. But GM, its increasing emphasis on developing and its ambitious efforts around vehicles, is making an effort to its historical role as industry

GM has said it plans to bring an hybrid vehicle called the Volt to the U.S. market by The Volt would use lithium-ion to operate for as many as 40 miles on alone. GM has promoted the Volt and its aggressive timetable as part of a effort to burnish its image as a leader.

GM executives have frustration that Toyota, the Prius, has overshadowed GM and diverted from Toyota’s substantial of sport-utility vehicles and pickups in many cases have mileage ratings than GM models.

Toyota executives are a far more conservative public than GM regarding lithium-ion and plug-in hybrids. Executives in Toyota’s advanced-vehicle strategy made no apologies for doing so and cold water on some of claims for its Volt technology.

We to expand the market for existing systems that we have said Yoshitaka Asakura, general manager in Toyota’s system-engineering division.

Mr. Asakura Toyota is concerned customers not accept a plug-in hybrid car that has to be recharged every despite enthusiasm from groups and electric-vehicle enthusiasts.

Reinert, national manager for the group at Toyota’s U.S. arm, said adapting a vehicle so it can run for 20 miles on electricity could cost about with current technology. We are there is some market at cost level, Mr. Reinert But Toyota wants to understand at price level it could the most vehicles. Referring to a more than that of the which starts at $20,950, he Where is the fat spot in the market?

Is it Is it $2,000? Is it $3,000?

Toyota to ship to two California universities a number of Prius cars to work as plug-in hybrids nickel-metal-hydride batteries. Those will be evaluated starting fall.

But Mr. Asakura and Yoshihiko managing officer overseeing development and fuel-cell system declined to say when Toyota offer plug-in hybrids for to consumers. They also offer a timetable for producing using lithium-ion batteries.

batteries are commonly used now to laptop computers and other consumer appliances. But overheating laptop batteries have blamed recently for a small of fires. Auto-industry executives expressed concern about the of lithium-ion batteries to overheat.

Step by step, we will the needed time to assure lithium-ion battery technology can Toyota’s reliability standards, Mr. said.

GM has said it is confident in the of the Volt and is engineering the car while it competing lithium-ion batteries. The maker has told the United Workers union it plans to the Volt at its Hamtramck, Mich. plant starting in 2010.

BMW i3 Electric Cars

Mr. Asakura expressed skepticism the concept of a plug-in hybrid car would run only on battery for 40 miles, the idea central to the Volt concept. Batteries enough to achieve that fill up the trunk of a car, he

Toyota is pursuing a different he said. It is looking at using to power the car on electricity for short alternating with power the gasoline engine. He said believes plug-in hybrids operate in electric-only mode for 10 to 20 miles.

Auto Giants Electric Cars

Debates in Highlight Dilemma; Leaping Hybrids


October 23, 2007 4:21

Worried that urban and fears about climate could provoke a backlash petroleum-fueled cars, big auto are revving up efforts to electrify

In the process, usually circumspect leaders are taking shots at others’ technology strategies in a more familiar to Silicon than Detroit or Toyota

The argument surfacing among leaders gathering for the Tokyo Show this week is whether it is time to skip partial electrification of cars represented by gasoline-electric hybrids as the Toyota Prius — and instead to revive the ideal of cars that the industry abandoned earlier this

On one side of the debate are Toyota Corp. and General Motors Both have played all-electric cars in favor of competing forms of gasoline-electric though they disagree on the technology and how quickly it can be implemented.

On the side are two allied car makers, Renault SA and Japan’s Nissan Co. as well as Honda Motor Co. The have long expressed about the economic wisdom of and now are talking up all-electric cars.

Renault-Nissan Chief Executive Ghosn and Honda President and CEO Fukui, in separate interviews argued that all-electric make more sense environmental, political and economic of view than hybrids, there are advances in making technology safer and more

None of the major auto is proposing to abandon internal-combustion or engines for mass-market vehicles any soon. But the industry leaders are regulators in the U.S. and Europe, pressure to respond to climate and address climbing oil prices, force car makers to dramatically the petroleum consumption of new vehicles. At the time, a growing number of big are moving to institute curbs on use in congested urban centers.

the differences among the auto suggest competing technologies jostle for prominence.

In an interview in Tuesday, Mr. Ghosn said the French and Japanese companies he are working together to field numbers of all-electric vehicles as as 2012, in the belief that hybrids won’t satisfy regulators in key markets. (See article.1)

We think in cities Paris and London — we cars will be forbidden they are zero-emission vehicles, Mr. said. He said Renault-Nissan’s reflect a judgment that technology will soon be enough to power purpose-built cars in city driving.

Mr. said that in Europe, 15% of rarely leave the city and be the target market for all-electric He stressed that Renault and don’t plan to convert entire fleets to all-electric While one car Nissan is featuring at the is an electric-car concept called the the auto maker also is a production car called the GT-R a nearly 500-horsepower engine and an time of zero to 60 miles per in less than four

Honda’s Mr. Fukui expressed about a type of vehicle as plug-in hybrid gasoline-electric saying they offer too few benefits. Such vehicles, GM’s proposed Chevrolet are recharged through an electrical yet are still partially powered by (See related article.2)

My is that the kind of plug-in currently proposed by different makers can be best described as a electric vehicle equipped an unnecessary fuel engine and tank, Mr. Fukui said at the research-and-development center north of He said he was referring to plug-in such as the Volt.

Assuming that we can come up a really high-performing battery we are working on currently, I think a electric vehicle would be a plus from an environmental of view, he said.

Mr. Fukui Honda could easily a plug-in hybrid within two But I don’t think that contribute to the global environment, he

GM, Toyota and other auto largely scrapped efforts to all-electric cars some ago after California delayed a that car makers offer vehicles. The demise of electric such as GM’s EV1 caused among environmentalists and electric-vehicle but it otherwise barely caused a in a U.S. auto market dominated by sport-utility vehicles.

A of consumer all-electric vehicles depend in large part on auto makers and battery can solve safety and cost with lithium-ion batteries. batteries commonly power computers and other small appliances, but auto-industry executives expressed concern about the tendency to overheat. Lithium-ion-battery have forced some recalls of laptops.

Citing about lithium-ion-battery reliability, executives on Monday said are taking a cautious step-by-step to developing plug-in hybrid vehicles using lithium-ion Plug-in hybrids store energy from the power to run more often in all-electric than a Toyota Prius.

GM has promoted the idea that its Volt concept could use batteries to operate for as far as about 60 on electricity alone. But the auto has qualified its claims by saying actual production of the Volt on advances in the safety, reliability and of lithium-ion-battery technology.

Toyota Monday said they are that many customers may not a plug-in hybrid electric car has to be recharged every day.

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