DETROIT SHOW: Toyota speeds up plug-ins

By just-auto.com editorial team | 14 January 2008

Toyota Motor Corporation will accelerate its global plug-in hybrid R&D programme by 2010, company president Katsuaki Watanabe said at the Detroit motor show.

This indicates that the Japanese automaker - which told just-auto in Japan last October it should have a plug-in Prius ready for 2011 - is pulling forward its programme to match GM, which has promised a plug-in Volt by the end of 2010.

As part of the plan, Watanabe said, Toyota would [lease] a significant fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), powered by lithium-ion batteries, to a wide variety of commercial customers world-wide, he added.

To make that happen, Toyota has already started the planning phase to expand its Panasonic joint-venture battery factory. The expansion will add an assembly line to build lithium batteries for automotive applications.

He said Toyota would stage the world premieres of two new, dedicated hybrids, one each for Toyota and Lexus, at next year's Detroit show.

"These two introductions will move us closer to our goal of selling a million hybrids per year in the next decade," said Watanabe.

He also confirmed that a new 'clean' diesel V8 engine would be offered in both the Tundra and Sequoia sold in the US in the near future.

GM plans plug-in Volt for end-2010