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Toyota wants government support for its local hybrid

Posted by Car Geek on October 28, 2007

Following on from the news that Toyota has plans to build a hybrid Camry or Aurion in Australia, there are now reports that the deal may hinge on support from the federal government for a friendlier environment in which to develop the vehicle. Toyota executives at the Tokyo motor show confirmed that they are considering building a hybrid vehicle in Altona, in Melbourne’s western suburbs, but would only do so if economic conditions were favourable.

Executive VP for global planning and operations, Tokuichi Uranishi, blamed the strong Australian dollar for the hesitation to build in Australia.

“We have lots of alternatives, (we can) take (a hybrid car) from Japan … or Thailand,” he says. “We are doing business, therefore we have to seriously compare which is the most economical way.

“[With] the very strong Aussie dollar, local production is getting very [difficult]. We are carefully looking at the movement of future arrangement of the import duty.”

If the economic conditions are considered appropriate, the new hybrid vehicle could be rolling off the production lines as early as 2010.

Toyota is certainly not the only Australian car manufacturer to be feeling the effects of globalisation, with the parent companies of both Ford and Holden seeking to draw their Australian operations back into their respective global families. This could mean fewer cars produced in Australia, perhaps, while they are cheaper to build overseas, but it may also afford us greater access to technology available in other parts of the world. It will be a tough decision for Toyota whether it decides to build a hybrid Camry here or simply import them, one that the government might see fit to help them make – particularly in an election year, with the possibility of more Australian jobs on the line.

(Source: drive.com.au)

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Plug-in Prius shows off in Tokyo

Posted by Car Geek on October 25, 2007

The Toyota Prius is Australia’s most popular hybrid, a story that seems to repeat itself the world over, so it’s no surprise that some attention is being paid to its next iteration. Although official announcements have been scarce, all information currently points to the next-generation Prius having “plug-in” capability, which will allow it to travel in all-electric mode (that’s zero litres per hundred kilometres) by charging it at home using a standard power outlet.

Plug-in Prius, image courtesy Popular Mechanics.

Popular Mechanics was lucky enough to take Toyota’s prototype for a test run during the Tokyo Motor Show currently underway. While the model they tested looks like a stock Prius on the outside, Toyota engineers beefed up the battery pack to hold more charge, similar in capacity to what the production model is expected to have. The plug-in hybrid (or PHEV) version has a range of about 7 miles (10 km) in all-electric mode using the enhanced nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and can reach 62 mph (about 100 km/h) without using a drop of fuel. The battery takes about 3-4 hours to charge on a 110V outlet, which would drop to half that on Australia’s 240V outlets.

Toyota remains coy about their plans for the battery technology they’ll use inside the next-generation Prius. The prototype model uses two of the NiMH battery packs used in the current hybrid vehicle, which takes their weight up to about 100kg. Lithium-based batteries are considerably lighter and have better qualities for automotive applications, but Toyota is taking a cautious approach with the Lithium Ion technology, given its expense and the tendency of some forms to encounter “thermal runaway” events. At the moment, it seems likely that Toyota will release the new Prius with a boosted NiMH battery first, then release a Lithium-Ion version when it feels the technology is ready.

So when are we likely to see it? The new version is expected to be released in 2009, and an eventual release in Australia is inevitable given the success of the current model, but when it will arrive in local showrooms is anyone’s guess. It’s likely to depend largely on how fast they can ramp up production to meet the larger Japanese and American markets. Who knows, maybe this new evolution of the Hybrid Synergy Drive technology might even find its way into Toyota’s local hybrid foray.

(Source: Popular Mechanics)

Posted in Hybrid, PHEV, Toyota | 2 Comments »

Toyota to build Australia’s first hybrid

Posted by Car Geek on August 10, 2007

Toyota Camry Hybrid. Image from motortrend.com

Ford and Holden said it couldn’t be done, but Toyota is out to further differentiate itself in the Australian market by building the first locally produced hybrid car.

 Dave Buttner, Toyota’s head of sales in Australia, has confirmed that a hybrid version of either the Camry or Aurion will be built in the manufacturer’s Altona plant, in northern Melbourne. Toyota already markets two of the three hybrid vehicles available in Australia – the Prius and the Lexus RX400h – and the new addition is likely to contain the same Hybrid Synergy Drive technology that exists in the best-selling Prius model, should it follow the hybrids that Toyota markets in the US.

“We want to be the first local manufacturer with green credentials. We want to be known as the company that was first to market,” Buttner says. “We want to be the leader on this issue. We have been looking at the Camry and Aurion for the hybrid and it’s looking like the Aurion. It will go on sale in 2011 or 2012.”

(Source: Daily Telegraph)

Posted in Hybrid, Toyota | 5 Comments »