Toyota Prius: Next Chapter Opens in January

By Michelle Krebs April 28, 2008

By Peter Nunn 2007_toyota_prius_240

Imagine a Toyota Prius, but faster, cleaner and greener. Such a car is coming soon and will launch at the Detroit auto show in January 2009.

America has fallen for the Prius in a big way, no doubt about that. Five years on, through an extraordinary combination of style, engineering and marketing, Toyota's fuel sipping hybrid remains the absolute gold standard for eco cars in the industry. 

The next generation, however, has all the makings of an even bigger hit. That's because it will be a touch bigger so offering more space. It will come with stronger 1.8-liter hybrid performance yet at the same time boast even better economy and class leading emissions, if early word is correct.

In other words, everything Americans like now about the Prius, including its unique design and crusading eco image, but in a 'smarter,' more high-grade package.

Yes, 2009 marks the point at which the Prius shifts gears and moves up to the next league. The Prius up until now has been just one model but as previously reported in AutoObserver, Toyota plans to spice up the action with a range of different Prius models as it closes in on its bid to be making 1 million hybrids per year by the early 2010s.

While it's still of course firmly under wraps, a well-placed Toyota source says the next generation Prius looks good. "Still Prius-eque, but a bit bigger and more solid looking."

Sources suggest that the next Prius will be some three to four inches longer and about an inch wider, but crucially will not be significantly heavier.

Environmentalists love the smooth, seamless power delivery of the Prius, its ability to run on clean electric power, its strong economy numbers and, not least,  the pure, earth-friendly image it gives off. 

All that will continue, with two provisos. One, Toyota will re-engineer the Prius' unique gas engine/electric motor/battery powertrain to make it more efficient, more tightly packaged and to extend the driving range using battery the electric motor.

Two, Toyota will install a bigger 1797 cc four cylinder gas engine to cope with the bigger body and counter criticism in some quarters of the weedy performance of the current 1.5.

With the new 1.8, output's expected to shift from today's 75 bhp to a more rousing
100 bhp. This together with a next generation electric motor should lift combined system output from the current 110 bhp to some 160 bhp, sources predict.

As such, the next Prius will be significantly faster, especially off the line and in low to mid range. But advances with the motor, battery and recharging inside Toyota's trick Hybrid Synergy Drive means economy won't be adversely affected.

Quite the reverse, in fact. While the current Prius posts a class-leading 35.5 km/l in Japan's 10.15-mode fuel cycle (equal to 83.5 mpg in the US), Toyota's reported target with the Mk 3 Prius is a stellar 40 km/l (94 mpg) in the same cycle.

Hold the champagne, however. Japan's 10.15 mode is now an old system, far from the modern global standard and especially kind to hybrids in the way it operates (letting them run for an extended period on electric power, which helps deliver wondrous fuel mileage numbers).   

Different markets around the world have their own take on exactly how green and frugal the Prius actually is. America, for instance, rates the 2008 Prius at a far more real world-like 48 mpg/45 mpg/46 mpg  for city/highway/combined.

Japan's 10.15 mode, nevertheless, while not perfect, does give an idea of the kind of efficiency improvements we can expect with the next Prius (ie some 10 per cent-plus) and suggests, perhaps, that America's Combined rating for the 2010 Prius will lift up to the 50-55 mpg mark. 

What about C02? Here and now, the Prius is good for 65g/km under Japan's 10.15-mode banner (but 106g/km in Europe). Nobody outside Toyota knows yet what the Mk 3 Prius will deliver but it will still be one of the cleanest cars on the planet. Indeed, it would be something if the next Prius didn't produce another big statement on CO2.

Toyota meantime is also working on Plug-in versions of the next Prius, of course. The idea 06toyotaphev_204   of being able to recharge the Prius' battery pack from a standard domestic socket to extend the vehicle's driving range in electric mode is the next step along way to lifting the Prius into yet another eco stratosphere. 

Tests are now under way on European, American and Japanese roads with a fleet of prototypes and Toyota has already announced that it plans to launch sales of Plug In Hybrids (fitted with state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries) to fleet buyers in the US and elsewhere by 2010.

However, plug-in won't come at launch in 2009 and as widely reported, Toyota has also put back the planned intro of state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries for the standard Prius due to worries over reliability, pricing, supply and other factors. 

Lightweight and high power, Li-Io is the definitely future, however, and Toyota has also said that it is actively now looking into mass production of the batteries in Japan together with Panasonic.

So to start with, the Mk 3 Prius will kick off with nickel-metal hydride batteries, as now. But the battery pack and indeed the whole system will be more efficient and tightly packaged.   

Eventually, there will be two body styles, according to a Toyota source. The minivan-style hybrid powered Hybrid X concept from Geneva 2007 could perhaps provide a few clues in that direction.

Toyota is also planning both bigger and smaller Prius-badged models as 'Prius' starts to become an eco brand all of its own. The tiny, two-cylinder, rear-engined 1/X concept from the 2007 Tokyo Show suggests what a future mini Prius could end up looking like.

As for the 'bigger' model, Japan's Nikkei business paper has spoken of an upscale hybrid model with 2.0-3.0-liter engine which could bow as early as 2010, but that yet to be confirmed and may even appear in due course with Lexus badges.

As far as the 2009 Detroit Show intro for the next Prius, we have that from an impeccable source. Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe himself, no less, has spoken about the NAIAS unveiling, so that surely has to be gospel.

On the production front, numbers for Prius are clearly going nowhere but up, underlining just what a major player the Prius has now become. 
. Japan's Nikkei reports that Toyota plans to boost Prius manufacturing by 60 per cent to 450,000 units a year by 2009, elevating it to one of Toyota's biggest brands, alongside Corolla and Camry.

Toyota reportedly built some 280,000 Prius models worldwide in 2007, a jump of almost a third compared to 2006. The Prius is currently built in two plants in Japan and in limited numbers in China, but it's surely only a matter of time before US local production kicks off.

America, after all, has taken the lion's share of Prius sales to date. Toyota's cumulative sales from 1997-2007 bring the hybrid wonder car in at 920,687 units, with the US accounting for 525,543 units. Second, was Japan with 290,805 units.

Amid all the hoopla over the Prius, however, not everyone yet is quite sold. Critics question how economical the car really is in day-to-day driving and continue to debate the worth and all-round effectiveness of the hybrid system, particularly with highway driving. As in, does it all really pay off? 

The costs involved in hybrid motoring, including a higher than normal sticker price and outlay needed to replace the battery pack (heaven forbid) have also come under scrutiny. Keen drivers note too that the Prius doesn't ride or handle particularly well and isn't that fast.

But then the Prius is a different kind of car and to date, none of these 'faults' have so far derailed it much in the showrooms or in the hearts and minds of more than half a million American buyers.

If all goes to plan, Toyota will answer these criticisms and more with the coming third generation Prius which is shaping up to be one of the most pivotal cars Japan has ever produced.

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Dennis says: 9:47 AM, 04.28.08

Good article Michelle.

The critics of the Prius generally make two basic mistakes in their "pay-off" calculations.

1. The base their comparisons on the exterior size and compare it with compacts. However the interior is solidly in the mid-size range (compare the dimensions to a new Malibu, they are nearly identical. Source: Consumer Reports). The price premium vs. most midsize sedans is only 1-2.5K.

2. The critics also tend to load the price premium all at the point of purchase. In reality it is spread over the term of the buyers loan like it is with any other car.

Given and average of 15K miles per year, a 20 mpg real world advantage (45 vs 25 mpg typical) and gas at 3.50 a gallon a Prius can save enough to cover a loan payment that is $79 higher each month. Factor in the excellent reliability and resale it enjoys and and it probably is a bargain and could well save money from day one.

And no, I do not own one. Starting to wish I did, however hyper miling the old Miata helps.

Dennis

Dennis says: 9:48 AM, 04.28.08

Oooops. That should have been $77 not $79.

Brett says: 7:53 PM, 04.28.08

I got a question:
do you have to buy a new battery for the prius ever so often? if so is it covered by the dealer? how much?

thanks

fulcrumb says: 11:03 PM, 04.28.08

Good question, Brett. My understanding is a lithium-ion battery in a typical automotive application should go 7-10 years; longer than a laptop application because charging requirements can be better monitored. Still, they will deteriorate. I think you are on your own after the regular warranty as far as replacement, the same as any type of battery. http://www.batteryuniversity.com Is a good source for info. I discovered I have been shortening the battery life in my laptop by the way I was charging it- who knew?
Now, I have a question: what is the gross amount of energy used to manufacture a hybrid vs an identical non-hybridl vehicle? My gut feeling is that with a hybrid, some part of the savings in emissions over a non-hybrid are offset or more than offset by the emissions from the energy sources used in the manufacture of the additional electric components of the drivetrain. So, while less CO2 is coming out of Your tailpipe vs a non-hybrid, did more come out of the smokestack(s) at the electric motor builder? The battery builder? Big picture, I'd bet there is a net increase in pollution, hybrid vs non-hybrid.

Dennis says: 4:11 AM, 04.29.08

Brett,
There are many Prius out there over 200k miles and the batteries are holding up fine.
The answer? No one knows, but it is a long time before they need to be replaced.
I'm curious about the failure mode, does it just go all at once or fade away...
If it means 40mpg at 250k vs 45mpg at 150k, big deal.

Fulcrumb-interesting question. Again an unknown, however consider this, having looked at the Prius motor/trans combo it looks to be far less complex than a modern automatic trans. It might actually be cheaper to make and have less manufacturing burden pollution wise. Just a thought, as I noted, we don't know.

Take care,

Guy says: 5:30 AM, 04.29.08

What people forget is that although the Prius (or should that be Pius) is pretty fuel efficient (although not much more so than a small engined Honda Civic or a European diesel compact car) the battery production and recycling/disposal is not an environmentally friendly task. This largely negates the feel good factor of going 50mpg.

fewgooddecisionsinlife says: 9:29 AM, 04.29.08

I own 2 2006 Prius each with more than 35,000 miles. I commute 35 miles each way with a toll of 2.50 each way. My teenager and wife get 45 mpg in suburban driving cuz they drive the Prius like a regular car. I get 52 in mostly highway driving cuz I watch the energy meter. I could get 70 mpg if I could master the pulse / glide (see Youtube). If I was President I would let every family deduct the interest of a Prius for the first year of ownership to sppok the oil speculators into a new demand model. Just a proposal like that would cut 50 cents from a gallon of gas.

Andy says: 10:07 AM, 04.29.08

Toyota has a tag on their batteries that encourages recycling. Scrappers who pick up Prius batteries are reimbursed $200 for returning the batteries to Toyota for recycling.

Andreas says: 5:58 PM, 04.29.08

The Toyota Prius has to travel about 20,000km to offset the additional 'Carbon' cost of itsa manufacture when compared to an equivalent conventional car. After that it starts to be more efficient. This has been covered in a very detailed life cycle assessment that was carried out by Toyota for the Prius. The batteries too are fully recycled (they are too valuable to throw away)

Bob Larson says: 8:52 PM, 04.29.08

My God, do you work for Toyota? This reads like a brochure, except for a few token lines near the very end that give an almost apologetic hint that the Prius has somehow not managed to win over the entire world yet (those with eyes and who care about driving perhaps?), but of course we're assured the new one will seal the deal and silence those unreasonable dolts. You're not a journalist, you're a cheerleader for the relentless march of Toyota toward utter global domination. If I ran Edmunds, you'd get the boot immediately.

Apex Alex says: 12:23 AM, 04.30.08

Dennis: "And no, I do not own one. Starting to wish I did, however hyper miling the old Miata helps."

same here! i personally know at least a 1/2 dozen prius owners. hyper-miling my own corolla, i've gotten 40 mpg overall.

with that high a BASE figure, a new prius will have to get 55 mpg+ to justify my buying one.

VaPrius says: 3:32 AM, 04.30.08

Brett-
The Prius's battery is really a large number of smaller cells. No one has had replace all of them (unless due to an accident). All tests, simulations, and real-world driving has the batteries lasting +200K easily. Toyota has spent a lot of effort controlling the load placed on the batteries so that they last a very long time.

Andreas-
Interesting post, I've not seen any analysis on that before and I spend a lot of time reading on the subject. Can you post a source? Either way, the number you quote is minor.

On the whole, the Prius does not take more energy to build than a standard vehicle. Yes, it is more complex, but the parts are lighter. The main thing to realize is that every vehicle produces pollution equal to its own weight every 150 - 250 gallons of gas burned (vehicle weight divided by 20 lbs). The amount of pollution produced by driving ANY vehicle far outweighs the pollution cost of designing and producing the vehicle. The batteries, and almost the entire car is recycled. Just like other cars.

Bruce J. says: 4:38 AM, 04.30.08

SOMBODY PLEASE tell Toyota that there are customers that want smaller and lighter! After owning 3 Toyotas, I jumped ship to Honda because Toyota didn't have a product in the price/performance range. I need a 60 mpg car for the daily 50 mile round trip commute. I wish Mitsubishi still made the 1700 lb. Mirage I had in the '81. It managed 45 mpg highway a quarter century ago! The only Toyota product that might sway me is the A-Bat show trucklet - IF it got at least 50 mpg.

Burrdozel says: 6:00 AM, 04.30.08

Brett,

It is many used japan cars (PRIUS ORIGINAL, NHW-10) in Russia.
These cars have been made since 1997 for 2000.
Batteries are lives!
By the way, batteries well function on Russian Frost.
(The design of batteries differs from Classic Prius (NHW-11) or Prius II (NHW-20))
Used Classic Prius (since 2000) and Prius II (since 2003) also well go.

russ says: 9:43 AM, 04.30.08

so, when will this new prius be available for purchase? the article is unclear. is this the 2009 model, or the 2010? i've been holding off buying a prius because i want a more powerful one if and when it arrives. am i going to have to wait until early next year, or the end of 2009?

professorprius says: 11:00 AM, 04.30.08

1. There has never been a Toyota hybrid owner who has paid to replace their nickel metal hydride (NiMH) hybrid battery due to defects or failure in the nine, almost ten, years the Prius and the other Toyota hybrids have been in the US.

There have been NiMH replaced due to accidents and the owner's that try to modify their systems or damage the NiMH due to abuse (one guy drilled a screw into his NiMH stack trying to install a big subwoofer for an aftermarket stereo).

Anything else is pure myth and common sense says if these things were failing, it would be all over the news.

2. Toyota has sold over one million hybrids to date, so if they did have problems, we would have plenty of them to hear about.

3. Full hybrids like the Prius actually have less parts and less moving parts than a standard vehicle.

The Prius has no starter, no alternator, no timing belt, no mechanical steering pump. no steering belt, and the brake pads should never need to be replaced due to the regenerative braking system doing most of the braking.

4. It is a complete myth that the Prius is more damaging to the environment in it's production, use, or lifespan than a standard vehicle.

If a Toyota hybrid catches on fire, for example, fire departments are told to let the NiMH pack burn because there isn't even enough material there to qualify for an environmental hazardous material spill.

I know this because I present hybrid safety classes for Toyota to fire departments and first responders.

I know people will disagree with me and say that I am just trying to sell for Toyota. I do not sell for Toyota, I am an independent educator for them.

My response is always prove it. Show true, documented information that says these vehicles are bad for the environment, fuel usage, or any other category.

sasha says: 6:07 PM, 04.30.08

Does anyone know whether Toyota will support swapping out the NMH battery in the 2009 Prior for the Li-Ion battery when Toyota makes it available in 2010? In other words, can I buy the 2009 Prius (which is Nickel Metal Hydride) and then when Toyota launches the PHEV Prius (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) using a Li-Ion battery in 2010, will Toyota swap it out? Are they designing the 2009 Prius battery bay to accomodate a Li-Ion configuration?

Jim Lee says: 12:01 AM, 05.03.08

My wife and I are both very happy Prius owners; hers is an 05 and mine is an 06. We current get 45-50 MPG mostly driving around town and about the same on the road.

I'm a real estate broker so I drive quite a bit. My clients absolutely love the car, in fact 2 of them ended up buying a Prius after riding around with me for a couple of days.

Great cars; I plan to trade for an 09 when they come out.

CarmyLover says: 7:22 AM, 05.05.08

When Prius PHEV get on market, buyer should meet at one of this requirement:

1. Pay cash in full.
2. will only take other Hybird car as trade-in.

James Marohn says: 4:15 PM, 05.05.08

So if they are "launching" this at the Detroit Auto Show in Jan 09, how soon till it starts shipping to the market?

dick whitaker says: 5:12 AM, 05.06.08

Good question, Sasha. I also wonder, if I buy a Prius now, whether I could have a plug-in option later on. I imagine battery cost would be a factor. Toyota would do well to engineer a Lithium Ion replacement, but what could be done with all those old NiCads? You'd probably only get scrap value.

Michelle Krebs says: 5:22 AM, 05.06.08

Word from Tokyo is that Toyota will unveil the Prius at the 2009 Detroit auto show in January. It goes on sale in Japan first half of 2009, in the U.S. shortly thereafter and in Europe in second half of '09. This Prius has nickel metal hydrid batteries, not lithium ion. You'll have to wait for those in a future version of the Prius

mike says: 6:40 AM, 05.07.08

Interesting article, thanks. I am thinking of getting a Prius, but will likely wait for the new model.
Regarding the plug in model planned; surely that would only be beneficial ecologically speaking if the electricity is coming from green sources. If you are using coal fired power stations you might as well drive a hummer, no?
What I'd like to have within 5 years is a plug in Prius and solar panels on my house roof to power the car and the house. Toyota, make it happen!

Meg says: 10:18 AM, 05.07.08

I have had a Prius for the last 3 years. I love it. I am not the least bit interested in getting a Prius that needs to be plugged in to recharge its batteries.

Patriot Does not Equal Sheep says: 10:21 AM, 05.07.08

What else is somebody supposed to cheerlead about???

Big Three petitioned moron bush to relax fuel standards since they can't meet them, while they produce only trucks and SUVs, sell Chinese outdated twenty year old cars that totally destroy the environment, while scamming Americans for the last decade with some fictitious "volt" concept that somehow always fails to materialize...Americans are so easily manipulated...

some blogger fell for bush faulty logic that you are not working class or not a Patriot if you buy the ONLY decent affordable hybrid which happens to be foreign, since they have been spending billions in R and D for decades while American car companies are blind, don't care, and blame others.....just like Americans themselves.....shameful......it is a national disgrace...if you REALLY are a patriot, you will stop buying American cars altogether until they get their act together......save money, keep gas tax and make sure it goes to research to help our own car companies..we would all be better off if gm went under during iacocca so they will be forced to innovate instead of be propped up, it is sad only when gas is $4.00 do SUV owners say maybe I should not drive to walmart by myself in sprawling parking lot and sprawling town in sprawling subdivision all the way across town past vacant downtown to "save" money, I guess they are not math, philosophy, or economics majors......but I am sure they will flip some incredibly overpriced home no middle class can afford for short-term profit and then blame others and feel ALL americans should suffer when their investment does not pay off.....and complain about quality of life when there is nothing but mcdonalds and walmart....and everybody is obese and can't think for themself except to repeat when biased news and neocons tell them to think.......incredible.....

jason smith says: 10:46 AM, 05.07.08

I get 100% wind power now, so I can hopefully power my future 100 mpg prius with it....

Hopefully, Toyota will be able to keep up with demand.....I do like the fact they are going to have a smaller more affordable version similar to yaris...if you commute every day, you just need to get from point a to point b.....I would like to have plug-in or lithium...I keep waiting, have to make the leap as soon as new model is out.....

I do see more and more prius around....so it is at least something positive happening in this country...hope it is not too little too late......

I live in a county with a lot of NIMBYism, second home owners, though, so my wind still comes from some distance away...it wouldn't matter what anybody says, these morons would still find some excuse, right now, they are not "aesthetically pleasing" or would affect their scenery from their mountaintop homes with outdoor wood burners, oil heat etc...despite all the small towns being deserted as young people move away....for more progressive pastures....

kdbaker58 says: 10:35 AM, 05.16.08

I'm looking into getting a Prius myself. I like the idea of the self charging system without having to plug it in. Technology is constantly improving things, but judgine from experience, the batteries on the things we plug in seem to wear out fairly quickly. And we all know that electricity comes from MAGIC.

priuswannabe says: 12:26 PM, 05.19.08

I plan on waiting until I can get the plug in variety. I drive about 45 miles a day roundtrip and currently have a 1999 Suburban that gets 15+ mpg. Since it's paid for gas will have to get to $5.83 a gallon or so before it makes sense for me to buy a new car that gets at least 45 mpg and costs me $500 a month. I'm sure many would complain that I am unpatriotic for driving such a large vehicle but does it make sense from an environmental and financial point of view to take on so much debt to be green? And how green is it to use energy generated from coal (Ohio)? the tree huggers never seem to consider all the factors before they throw stones. Why should I take on so much debt when it isn't clearly doing good? Was I supposed to have though about all this nine years ago when I bought it?

pluginhybrid says: 3:48 PM, 05.23.08

I think is tragic when someone writes an article like this. I mean, has this person read anything about the Facts of the Prius. Such as, the Hybrid batteries never need to be replaced because they are designed to last the life of the vehicle. And that Toyota has not replaced Not even One battery on the 04 to 08 second generation Prius. That include a story about a New Your Taxi cab Prius driver who put 360,000 thousand miles on his Prius and never had any mechanical or hybrid problems at all. Toyota bought his car from him and gave him a Brand new Prius so that they can study his car in detail to further learn how to perfect the technology. Toyota is all about perfecting perfection. and Toyota is the leader in this department. I write Toyota every week letting them know I want to buy an electric car, and a plug in Hyrbid and asking them when will they be selling one to the public because I want to buy a car that uses less gasoline and gives me the choice of what fuel I use. I prefer electricity over gasoline. Even if 100% of your electricity came from coal fire power plants, you would still be creating half the air pollution with your electric car, than a 100% gasoline powered car. so no matter how you look at it, electricity is cleaner and cost less too. Adn I want to be able to fill my car up with natural gas from my home, called cng once compressed by a Phill station I will buy once I own the car. For now I'm looking for a mechanic to convert my Prius to use the CNG, that way the fuel only cost me less than one dallar per gallon equivalent. thats a lot less than gasoline that just tipped the 4.oo dollars per gallon price. OUCH! Toyota, I want choices, now! The Prius is a good first step, but it's a far cry from what we need today! Get to "moving forward" Toyota! and tomorrow or some day just doesn't cut it. I mean NOW!

dwlayman says: 5:41 PM, 05.24.08

05 Prius here, go 350-400 miles per week during the school year (I'm a college teacher at 3 schools).

With proper driving (esp. no more than 55 mph), plus all the other standard methods (slow on acceleration, coast to red light, anticipate traffic, etc.), I get 50 mpg (winter) to 57 mpg (summer). Winter means Jan.- Mar., then it gradually increases; summer is June-Oct., then decreases through Nov./Dec. I figure my overall average is 53-55 mpg.

Those numbers are long-term averages of actual calculations (distance went/gallons pumped). Instrumental mpg are 2-3 mpg higher.

I've had my Prius since Nov. 05, and I have had no battery problems. Indeed no problems at all, other than several flat tires and standard maintenance.

Love it and am eagerly awaiting the plug-in Prius in '10.

priusowner06 says: 9:08 PM, 07.07.08

This from The 10 Hyrid Myths published on Yahoo Finance awhile back: Myth #2 Hybrid batteries need to be replaced.

"Worries about an expensive replacement of a hybrid car's batteries continue to nag many potential buyers. those worries are unfounded. by keeping the charge between 40% and 60% - never fully charged and never fully drained - car makers have greatly extended the logenvity of nickel metal hydride batteries. ... There's little to no informtion about the cost for replacing a hybrid battery, because it hasn't been a requirement with today's models. When that day comes, OWNERS WILL REPLACE A SINGLE CELL - there are hundreds on a hybrid's battery pack - OR A WHOLE MODULE, NOT THE ENTIRE PACK."

And this from my Toyota Prius User Guide, for the 2004-2006 model:

The battery pack is expected to last the lifetime of the vehicle. so with normal wear & tear, Prius owners should not expect to EVER have to replace it.

And lastly, in response to Guy who is worried about environmental impact of all those batteries in a landfill - it ain't so. From the same User's Guide:

"EVERY part of the battery, from the precious metals to the plastic, plates, steel-case and the wiring, is recycled. To ensure that batteries come back to Toyota, each battery has a phone number on it to call for recycling information and dealers are paid a $200 "bounty" for each pack collected."

corpsbum says: 8:01 AM, 10.29.08

The last numbers I read about Prius battery pack durability were that 635,632 Prius cars had been sold and about 300 battery packs replaced. That's 99.528% reliability. Not too bad, don't you think? That's for the current Nickel metal hydride batteries. No wonder the warranty on the hybrid components in a Prius is so long!

Current aftermarket conversion companies are installing lithium-ion batteries with great success, and no, the new generation of lithium-ions will not catch on fire in normal, or even not so normal use. Toyota is wrestling with the issues of cost/benefits ratios before selling hybrids with these batteries and I wish they would get on with it!

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