Steane Klose | Mar 7, 2008

The last few days has seen a flood of news regarding Toyota and their hybrid program. Toyota President, Katsuaki Watanabe spoke to Automotive News Europe at the Geneva Motor Show and threw cold water on the idea of a Toyota diesel-electric hybrid. According to Toyota the cost premium of a diesel-electric hybrid over a petrol-electric hybrid does not justify the efficiency gains.

Despite Toyota’s take on the subject, European manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes and VW are pushing ahead with diesel-electric hybrids, although they are on the whole cheaper designs that offer electric power assistance when needed in combination with other hybrid efficiencies such as stop-start and regenerative braking.

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In spite of their apparent short sightedness on the diesel-hybrid front, Toyota are leaps and bounds ahead of the opposition when it comes to the development of hybrid battery technology. While the majority of manufacturers look to the coming lithium-ion revolution (the next generation of lighter more powerful batteries), Toyota are skipping a generation and looking at plug-in batteries using alternative materials.

By 2020, Toyota are hoping to have commercialised a battery system that charges from the domestic power supply and has a range of around 80km on each charge. To achieve this Toyota have a team looking at alternative materials for battery production, including air-zinc.

In the meantime, Toyota are testing plug-in Prius hybrids that they hope to have on the market by 2010, using lithium-ion batteries.

The year 2020 will be a big one for Toyota as this is also the year by which the manufacturer has said it will offer a hybrid version of every model in its line-up.

[Source: Automotive News Europe]

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