Toyota Motor has detailed plans to study U.S. consumer demand for a version of its hot-selling Prius hybrid that could be recharged at a standard outlet and run on electric power only.

“Before we bring it to market, our customers always expect a level of quality and reliability, value and cost,” Bob Carter said. “It’s critical that we understand the expectations of the consumers.”

Researchers will seek to learn how long drivers want the plug-ins to run on electric power only, how much they will pay for one, and where they will use charging stations. First results of Berkeley consumer studies would be ready in about a year.

UC Irvine will concentrate on technical issues, such as how much electricity will be taken from the regional power grid as thousands of hybrid owners plug in.

I thought Toyota would move in this direction. Not that GM will be serious competition; but, Honda has announced a commitment to a larger electric-drive proportion in their next-gen hybrids.

  1. moss says:

    Toyota was adamant about never doing a plug-in hybrid. Glad to see their analytics overcome stubborn engineers.

    Now, will they stick to their guns about waiting for reliable lithium-ion batteries – or make the jump that Honda has and go straight into metal hydride batteries to get product out to meet demand.

    You can always upgrade later.

  2. Dallas says:

    This is very exciting indeed to see the tipping point for auto manufacturers to go all electric is arriving.

    It’s to bad the US is not leading the movement towards “green energy innovation”. This trend will be bigger than the internet in terms of commercial opportunity.

    In some way, it’s great to see the rest of the world lead and pass up the Americans. Let’s face it, we are yesterday’s empire. We have a monkey for a president with the brains of a rock. We live in fear. We other nations to save us from ourselves. I am an ashamed American.

  3. steelcobra says:

    The question is, though, will they make it so you can just plug into your garage’s 120v outlet, or will they make you install a special outlet just for the car?

    That, and the Prius is a fairly ugly design. They need to work on integrating hybrid technology into their more popular designs.

  4. Peter Rodwell says:

    This does nothing to combat global warming or pollution – power plants put out vast amounts of CO2 and electric cars just move the problem to another location.

  5. moss says:

    #3 – All the plug-in hybrids presume plugging into 120v household mains. Part of the definition.

    #4 – Go read up on the topic. The difference in available power for transit vs. greenhouse gases output from power plants is dramatic. Quit trying to learn science from Rush or the RNC.

  6. Peter Rodwell says:

    #4 – Go read up on the topic

    I have done and you’re wrong. And I pay no attention whatsoever to Rush or the RNC.

  7. MikeN says:

    What is this available power from transit? Are you suggesting that the increased power used, doesn’t equal more greenhouse gases produced? Perhaps you are suggesting nuclear power as the source for these cars, which would reduce pollution?

    I think this move to electric power will end up wasting energy. Right now, when you go the the gas tank to fill up, you see exactly how much you are spending, and how much each gallon is. For a plug-in car, you wouldn’t see how much it cost to recharge until over a month later, and even then it’s your total power bill. Seeing when prices go up encourages conservation.

  8. RMichael says:

    “Right now, when you go the the gas tank to fill up, you see exactly how much you are spending, and how much each gallon is.”

    Really? Do you see how many defense budget dollars went into that gallon on the pump? Does it calculate how many soldiers were maimed or killed for your fill up? Does it show the amount of farm subsidies that went to pay for the corn used to make ethanol that’s blended in there?

  9. moss says:

    MikeN – nice to see you stick to strawman reasoning. Predictable. Useless.

  10. moss says:

    OK – Peter – pls offer up any science-based source that finds energy available from power plants, cripes, even coal-fired, that produces greenhouse gases comparable to internal combustion engines/watt, etc..

    Mail me a penny postcard when you find one.

    Do you begin to understand the greater efficiency achieved moving a vehicle with electricity vs. internal combustion engines?

  11. Mister Mustard says:

    >>I have done and you’re wrong.

    Why not share some of your enlightment with us then? Everything I have read says that electric cars contribute only a fraction of the pollutants, overall, that gas-powered ones do.

  12. Mark Derail says:

    As a Prius owner I must have sympathy for the truck/suv lovers.
    There is hope. His name is Jonathan Goodwind – he does diesel-electric conversions. Look him in California.

    The most important reason I bought a Prius was that my daily commute is small, a pure electric car works for me.

    However pure electric cars that are highway capable cost a small fortune, not the case with the Prius. Some plug-in kits & extra batteries are as low as 5k$.

    For those who don’t know – all hybrids – except Toyota – cannot work in pure Electric Mode, the gas engine must run. Like Honda. Ford licensed it’s tech from Toyota, so it’s able to creep in the woods without scaring fawns.

    GM’s Volt, which might be ready for consumer sale in 5 years, 2012, is a pure Electric Vehicle with generator backup.

    Jonathan Goodwind puts diesel turbine + generator + electric motors, no batteries, like freight trains.

  13. MikeN says:

    RMichael throws out those answers, and I’m the one using strawman arguments?

    If you see gas is $4 a gallon, you’re going to cut back right away. Electricity produced generally can’t be stored, and the rates are fixed for longer periods. This means more driving if people are using electric cars.

  14. Mister Mustard says:

    >>If you see gas is $4 a gallon, you’re going to cut back right away.

    Yeah, and is gas if $40 a gallon, only Dick Cheney and his friends will be able to drive.

    I realize that it’s antithetical to the Republican mindset, but how about if we get to work developing some modes of transportation that do NOT rely exclusively on pissing away fossile fuels in Hummers, F450s, and the other idiotic boy-toys that are the lifeblood of Cheney’s Energy Cabal and Saudi Arabia/ al Qaeda? Hmmm?

    I’ll bet you hate mass transit and bicicyles too.

  15. domc says:

    I for one would go for a partial electric car plugin. I only drive 2.5 miles to work and the wife works at home. If a car only went 30-50 miles on a charge, it would be fine for us. I’m hopefully waiting.

  16. MikeN says:

    Yeah, I don’t think the Republican mindset involves telling everyone to ride a bike.

  17. Mister Mustard says:

    >>Yeah, I don’t think the Republican mindset involves telling
    >>everyone to ride a bike.

    Of course not. That’s some thing that’s good for the environment, good for the rider, and good for society.

    What the fuck would Republicans support THAT for?


  18. Glenn E says:

    It sounds to me like Toyota is stalling for time, while still attempting to look green in some feeble way. Wasn’t all this study nonsense done back in the 1990s, when the first EV1s were tested in California? What happened to all of that data. Was it thrown away, when the auto industry lobbied out the goals for zero emission vehicles? Did any of these anto makers spend a single dime studying how SUV and Minivan sales would effect fuel use and demand, before deciding to force them onto the public (via Tv ads)? Very likely NO! The auto makers simply knew that the emission standards for these vehicles weren’t as stringent as smaller cars. And what was good for their sales figures, was also good for big oil sales too. Only now that gasoline is heading towards $4 a gallon, are the duped consumers thinking that driving such a gas-guzzling thing around, isn’t such a smart idea anymore.

  19. Angel H. Wong says:

    I can’t wait for car enthusiasts to bitch that plugin cars are for sissies.

  20. Steve S says:

    Peter Rodwell
    “July 19, 2007 – The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today released a comprehensive assessment that finds that widespread
    use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in the United States
    could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and potential for improve ambient air quality.”

    Dallas wrote:
    “We have a monkey for a president with the brains of a rock. ”
    Come on now!
    Lets not insult monkeys and rocks here!

  21. Mike Voice says:

    18 Wasn’t all this study nonsense done back in the 1990s, when the first EV1s were tested in California?

    And don’t forget Toyota’s own RAV4 EV, discontinued in 2003:

    Quotes from the link:

    Although a significant marketing effort was undertaken for the RAV4-EV, we only sold about 300 vehicles a year.

    Industry practice regards batteries to be at the end of their useful life when capacity decreases to 80% of original capacity. … It is cost-prohibitive to replace an EV battery. The cost to replace the battery is more than the value of the vehicle.

    Do batteries still cost more than the vehicle is worth?

    Although Toyota’s electric vehicle sales have proved disappointing, Toyota was able to leverage valuable technology from the development and sales of the RAV4-EV. For example, some of the technology involved in the Hybrid Synergy Drive® system on the next generation Prius came from the RAV4-EV.

    My question is: If rechargeable-only vehicles have failed in the marketplace, but Hybrid [no plug-in allowed] has been very popular in the marketplace – then why re-introduce rechargeable-only vehicles, when “Hybrids with an option to plug-in” would seem more logical??

    Especially since it is already being done:

  22. Mike Voice says:

    Re #21

    My bad…

    I took the statement: “… and run on electric power only.” to mean they were working on a purely rechargeable version of the Prius – sans gasoline engine.

  23. hhopper says:

    I think an all electric car is a great idea but unfortunately the cost of the extension cord will offset any benefits.


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