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Toyota Abandons Plans For All-Electric Vehicle Rollout 490

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-of-the-same dept.
Soultest writes "Toyota has given up on plans to sell any significant number of all-electric vehicles. Citing 'many difficulties' with the project, the company says it will only sell about 100 of the battery-powered eQ cars it has been working on for several years. 'By dropping plans for a second electric vehicle in its line-up, Toyota cast more doubt on an alternative to the combustion engine that has been both lauded for its oil-saving potential and criticized for its heavy reliance on government subsidies in key markets like the United States. 'The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge,' said, Uchiyamada, who spearheaded Toyota's development of the Prius hybrid in the 1990s.'"
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Toyota Abandons Plans For All-Electric Vehicle Rollout

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:26AM (#41436491)

    There will never be a large market for electric cars until the infrastructure has been upgraded accordingly. Where I have lived (Texas, Michigan), there are no charging stations. You can't expect people to buy the car if the infrastructure doesn't support the car.

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:37AM (#41436675)

      There will never be a large market for electric cars until the infrastructure has been upgraded accordingly. Where I have lived (Texas, Michigan), there are no charging stations. You can't expect people to buy the car if the infrastructure doesn't support the car.

      True, at the moment it is a niche market. If you live close enough to work and a store to commute on a single charge, and have a second vehicle in the household for longer trips it makes sense. I think that this niche is a lot bigger than the current market - electric vehicles are still much more expensive than equivalent compact cars.

      • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday September 24, 2012 @11:34AM (#41437601) Homepage

        If you live close enough to work and a store to commute on a single charge, and have a second vehicle in the household for longer trips it makes sense. I think that this niche is a lot bigger than the current market - electric vehicles are still much more expensive than equivalent compact cars.

        Exactly. Whether an electric car is practical or not depends on application.

        There are millions of people for whom electric cars perfectly fit their requirements. If you're thinking "replace 100% of the cars in use"-- well, yes, that is impractical. But there are large segments of the market for which electric is practical today.

        In 2009, the average length of a car trip was 10.1 miles; the average length of a commute to work was 12.6 miles. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/2010_fotw615.html [energy.gov]
        My commute to work is considerably shorter. Most usage of cars could be done easily with electric vehicles, with recharge overnight at home. Not all-- however, for a second vehicle (and most households in the US have two or more vehicles), electric is completely practical.

        The point is to make electric cars for the uses for which they are well adapted. If you want a vehicle to take a family of four on a camping trip from New York to Yellowstone, an EV is not the right choice. If your application is a seven mile commute for one person in Atlanta, along with occasional trips to the grocery story, it may be exactly what you need. It may be a "niche" market by some definitions, but there are a 443 makes and models of cars sold in America-- there's room for many niche vehicles to sell perfectly well.

        (Another interesting point is that electric vehicles are more practical in regions south of the snow belt, unless you have plug-in stations at the destination that can keep the batteries warm. A practical EV for Alaska is a harder technology than making EVs for Los Angeles!)

        • Er... what good are those stats? Is your commute to work to only driving you do? Do you ownly make one trip in the car each day? What is more important are a) median daily use and b) the dispersion about the mean. If 25% of the time I am going to be driving well beyond the electric range the car is worthless, even if my 'average' trip is within that range.

          • You make some good points, ones that I was thinking about myself, though the way you phrase them make them seem a bigger problem. First step, my assumption: People tend to buy a car to cover 90-95% of their needs/wants, not 50%(average). Especially those outside of the cities. Once you buy a more capable vehicle, it's extremely difficult to justify a smaller vehicle economically. Have a truck because you tow every weekend or have a sideline construction business? Unless your truck is unusually ineffic

          • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday September 24, 2012 @02:18PM (#41440297) Homepage

            Er... what good are those stats? Is your commute to work to only driving you do? Do you ownly make one trip in the car each day?

            Here is what I stated: "...for a second vehicle (and most households in the US have two or more vehicles), electric is completely practical."

            So: if I make a longer trip, I'd use my wife's car. I suppose that there could be days in which we both, separately, need to make long trips; but I can't think of it having happened offhand.

            If 25% of the time I am going to be driving well beyond the electric range the car is worthless, even if my 'average' trip is within that range.

            What I'd written was: "Whether an electric car is practical or not depends on application." If your application is one in which 25% of the time you're driving beyond the electric car range, well, for your application an electric car is not practical.

            Electric is practical for some applications, not all applications. For your quoted requirement of extended range 25% of the time, a plug-in hybrid instead of an all-electric might be the right choice. Or maybe not; depends on what exactly you need. Some applications.

        • In 2009, the average length of a car trip was 10.1 miles; the average length of a commute to work was 12.6 miles.

          Most usage of cars could be done easily with electric vehicles, with recharge overnight at home.

          The problem isn't the averages, the problem is the variation. Most of the time you are correct that people could get their business done as the average distance traveled per day is around 35 miles. But long road trips are not unusual in the US. My daily round trip commute is around 40 miles but my daily miles driven is around 92 miles. (I drive around 35,000 miles per year) That means I take frequent longer trips, well beyond the range of any current electric vehicle. I'm not particularly unusual. I'd

        • Self-driving vehicles may make EVs much more practical. Imagine, if you will, a world in which car ownership is rare for the simple reason that you can rent a self-driving vehicle of nearly any configuration from a fleet. This is markedly cheaper than renting a car now, because, when you are not using the vehicle, somebody else is (contrast with flying for a business trip and renting a car to go from airport to hotel to office to airport -- most of the time the car is sitting idle).

          It also removes the "

    • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:40AM (#41436717) Journal

      I think the actual issue is that we might be thinking about what infrastructure is needed for this in the wrong way.

      I don't currently own a car (lucky enough to live in a London suburb with great public transport), but if I did, then an electric vehicle would make a lot of sense for what I'd use it for - short shopping trips and the like. However, the apartment complex I live in has no charging facilities in its car-park, so even though I own a parking space there (which currently sits empty), I'd have no way of charging one. Getting charging facilities installed would be seriously expensive.

      I've often wondered if the conceptual model we use for electric cars isn't the wrong one. The current assumption is that when you buy an electric car, you also buy and own the battery, and you are responsible for keeping it charged.

      Now - maybe there are umpteen good reasons why this couldn't work - but has anybody ever tried a different approach? I'm talking about a model where the cars have easily-swapped batteries, which the driver leases, rather than owning. So... you buy your car and you pay an upfront deposit for the lease of a battery. When your battery runs low, you go into a gas station (or in this case, gas/charging station), the battery gets removed and replaced by a fresh one from the station's "charging room".

      You pay a fee to the station covering your share of its electricity costs for charging the battery plus whatever profit margin it requires (much like paying for your gas at the moment), and you drive off a few minutes after arriving. Meanwhile, "your" old battery is charged up at the station and swapped with another customer's empty battery once it's finished recharging. This eliminates a lot of the charge-time complaints associated with electric vehicles at the moment and also means that we don't need charging points in homes or at the roadside.

      I'm sure there must be good reasons why this wouldn't work, given it never seems to get consideration - but what are they?

      • by Skater (41976) on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:49AM (#41436851) Homepage Journal
        There are people working on this idea. The issues are that it requires a standard battery pack, which is easily and quickly changeable - within a few minutes at most.
        • by RogueyWon (735973) *

          It's good to know that the issue's being worked on - are there any links? (I'm genuinely interested in this stuff.)

          I can see that the standardisation issue could be a tricky one (in a world where we still have no standard mobile phone or laptop chargers), but it surely can't be beyond our capacity to solve.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Renault uses this model in its Fluence Z.E. electrical car:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Fluence_Z.E.#Better_Place_battery_swap

          • by Sparks23 (412116) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:23PM (#41438473)

            Renault and Nissan came up with the Quick-Drop battery swapping system that another poster mentions in regard to the Fluence ZE, though Nissan doesn't use it for the LEAF platform; the LEAF battery packs *can* be swapped out fairly easily, but it's not set up for the Quick-Drop method. Tesla originally talked about offering battery swaps at their Supercharger locations, but I think that's fallen by the wayside.

            Honestly, with so many different battery capacities — the LEAF has 24kWh worth of batteries, while the highest-end Model S has 80kWh — I think standardization would be hard. I mean, we can't even fully finalize on a quick-charging standard!

            In Japan and France, they have a system called CHAdeMO, a large plug capable of delivering up to 62.5kW of charge and thus charging the LEAF from near-empty in about 25 minutes. Japanese EVs and a number of European ones use this as a charging connector.

            Meanwhile, the US came up with SAE1772, a replacement for older charging standards, with a smaller plug but which is limited to about 6.6kW of charge at 220V, meaning they can be installed many more places but take hours to recharge. (These are the little stations in many parking lots, for 'charge while you shop' at a mall or whatever.) Given the differing standards, various cars released in the US — the LEAF, the MiEV, etc. — support J1772 for slower charging and CHAdeMO for fast charging. And so CHAdeMO quick chargers have been put in along freeways.

            Now SAE has come up with a variant on SAE1772 — a bigger form of the plug with the original plug as a subset of the design — which could allow quick-charging. The idea being that you'd only need one plug; the new SAE1772 variant sockets could use the old plugs, so older charging stations would work, but you'd have to have new sockets for any new plugs. However, no one's committed to supporting that yet that I've heard.

            Then Tesla, disgusted with everyone else, designed their own Supercharger system which charges at up to 100kW — heavier duty than CHAdeMO — so that they can charge the 80kW pack of a high-end Model S much faster. They made adapters to allow SAE1772 charging too, for all the little parking lot stations, but there's no easy way to convert CHAdeMO for those quick chargers.

            Standardization among EVs is... well, we still have a way to go.

        • by trout007 (975317)

          The one I think has the most potential is the liquid battery. Here the "electrodes" are in liquid form and stored in tanks. When depleted they can be pumped out and new liquid pumped in. The benefit is each vehicle could have it's own tank configuration and size as long as the liquids are the same.

          http://www.hybridcars.com/news/mits-liquid-battery-could-refuel-minutes-30157.html [hybridcars.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And who is going to lift the battery? You would need an infrastructure and staffing at every gas station for hooking up and lifting out the old batteries, and putting in new ones. Remember, these aren't your normal car batteries we are talking about. Not to mention the battery technology is changing every year, so nobody will have replacements until that rate of change settles down - which may never happen.

      • by earthman (12244)

        This is exactly the model Renault is using in Europe. Plus you can still charge the car yourself.

      • by dargaud (518470)

        However, the apartment complex I live in has no charging facilities in its car-park, so even though I own a parking space there

        Well, in Alaska, every parking spot has a power cable to plug into your car to keep it warm (resistor around the engine block or something). If they can do it, I guess others can too. And it keeps you motivated to pay the parking meter otherwise your car won't start at -50!

        • Well, I'm in Alaska and I've given a serious look at the electric motorcycles precisesly because of the sockets all over. While 110V@12A is a 'cripple charge' for most electric cars, it's often less than an hour to 'top off' an electric motorcycle...

          (resistor around the engine block or something)

          Step 1: Heater into the engine block to heat up the coolant (South/North Dakota area)
          Step 2: Heater onto the oil pan/heated dip stick.
          Step 3: "Battery Blanket" style heater on the battery, or a trickle charger(I use a trickle charger; first it makes sure the

      • by vlm (69642)

        I'm sure there must be good reasons why this wouldn't work, given it never seems to get consideration - but what are they?

        Legal liability issues, mostly.

        I swap and receive at 99% worn out, 1% barely working battery and I'm the lucky guy who terminally burns it out. Do I get to pay full list price to replace it? I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere, who pays for the tow truck? Stalled out on the interstate and got rear ended, who'd liable? Its a mess.

        Another classic is product liability issue, if we invented gasoline pumps today we'd never be able to deploy a gasoline infrastructure. Burned to death by the gas pump is "OK" b

      • I think the actual issue is that we might be thinking about what infrastructure is needed for this in the wrong way.

        I don't currently own a car (lucky enough to live in a London suburb with great public transport), but if I did, then an electric vehicle would make a lot of sense for what I'd use it for - short shopping trips and the like. However, the apartment complex I live in has no charging facilities in its car-park, so even though I own a parking space there (which currently sits empty), I'd have no way of charging one. Getting charging facilities installed would be seriously expensive.

        I've often wondered if the conceptual model we use for electric cars isn't the wrong one. The current assumption is that when you buy an electric car, you also buy and own the battery, and you are responsible for keeping it charged.

        Now - maybe there are umpteen good reasons why this couldn't work - but has anybody ever tried a different approach? I'm talking about a model where the cars have easily-swapped batteries, which the driver leases, rather than owning. So... you buy your car and you pay an upfront deposit for the lease of a battery. When your battery runs low, you go into a gas station (or in this case, gas/charging station), the battery gets removed and replaced by a fresh one from the station's "charging room".

        You pay a fee to the station covering your share of its electricity costs for charging the battery plus whatever profit margin it requires (much like paying for your gas at the moment), and you drive off a few minutes after arriving. Meanwhile, "your" old battery is charged up at the station and swapped with another customer's empty battery once it's finished recharging. This eliminates a lot of the charge-time complaints associated with electric vehicles at the moment and also means that we don't need charging points in homes or at the roadside.

        I'm sure there must be good reasons why this wouldn't work, given it never seems to get consideration - but what are they?

        It's a pity nobody thought about this. [betterplace.com]

    • I'd be more than happy with a low cost electric vehicle with a range of around 50-100 miles as long as it's clearly priced and marketed as a supplementary vehicle (ie you'd be expected to buy one in addition to a regular car), is comfortable, and is climate controlled (I live in Florida, so an electric scooter isn't going to work for me.)

      Most people's morning commute is less than 25 miles. If you could create a class of electric vehicle optimized for the morning commute, selling at, say, $5k, rather than

      • by voidptr (609)

        I don't think you could realistically put a brand new vehicle together that was street legal and met current safety standards for less than $10,000. Arcimoto [arcimoto.com] is aiming for the commuter electric vehicle market, but they're projecting closer to $17k. That's still better than $35k though, and probably within range for a decent size group of early adopters.

      • Something that we've been considering is either the Volt or more likely the Prius as our main vehicle. What we're looking at is the 40-50 mile range on battery that's long enough for our normal driving needs in our rural area. Simply fill the tank, add a bottle of fuel stablizer and basically forget about the gas unless we need to drive a long distance. That's where the hybrid really pays off and in our case based on our fuel log, we'd probably buy a tank of gas every three months.

        For others that's probably

      • by tompaulco (629533)
        If you could create a class of electric vehicle optimized for the morning commute, selling at, say, $5k
        They actually had vehicles like this before the green movement. They were glorified golf carts and cost about $5k. However, when the green movement started, suddenly the price shot up by $30,000.
    • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Monday September 24, 2012 @11:03AM (#41437061) Journal

      If you actually look at the data from the studies that companies have performed, there are virtually zero current owners of electric vehicles that use or even want to use charging stations outside of their homes.

      Just about all of them to the last man and woman, prefer to charge at home. Ah but what about long trips? They just don't take them in EVs. They take another method of transportation, as they should.

      Just take a look at every charging station that's ever been installed for public use, they are abandoned.

      Sadly, it's not this mystical infrastructure that's holding EVs back. IMHO the first factor is that their range is incompatible with the owners who could charge them. Most people who can live with a sub 100 mile range, live in the city and don't have a garage to charge the cars. Most people who do have a garage live in the suburbs and need more range. The actual number of suitable households has got to be fairly small.

      Then theres the fact that they are mostly priced probably at 2x where they should. Supply and demand are not enough, they need to meet at the same price to clear the market. I might want an EV and I'm willing-to-pay $15k. If you're selling for $40k, I'm not buying.

      What's most amusing, is watching these gigantic corporations try to innovate and fail. They have tremendous resources, but they're not set up to innovate. They're set up to scale up things. When they try to innovate they fail miserably. So if they can't do it, who will?

      • I never understood why they couldn't hitch up a trailer carrying a gasoline generator. BAMF, instant hybrid that could travel interstate.
        Of course, I also never understood why we couldn't put coin-op outlets on all those light poles throughout the mall parking lots. While 120v isn't going to be a fast charge, it'll juice up your car while you shop.
      • by fnj (64210)

        Did you ever consider that they do not use charging stations because THERE ARE ESSENTIALLY NO CHARGING STATIONS? Chicken and egg.

        But you are right that the absurdly impractical cost and ridiculously low range are enough to keep the electric car in a tiny niche. The lack of infrastructure is just something that would come into play if those two crippling problems were ever solved.

        The cost problem just MIGHT be solved in reverse. As the complexity of gasoline powered cars rises to insane levels, their cost is

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      There will never be a large market for electric cars until the infrastructure has been upgraded accordingly.

      It's not the 'infrastructure', it's the cars.

      Our ancestors tried electric cars in the 19th century and they sucked. They still suck. The only thing that will stop them sucking is a massive improvement in battery technology.

    • Infrastructure doesn't play much of a role. One thing to consider is say driving a long ways. Assume that there was a charging station within every mile; they wouldn't compare to gas stations. At a gas station, you can be in and out in less than 2 minutes from an empty tank to a full one. The Tesla Roadster on the other hand takes 3.5 hours to fully charge.

      Not a huge deal if you are only going to work and back, but what if you want to take a longer trip, say from Phoenix to LA? A good third of the time spen

    • by vlm (69642)

      There will never be a large market for electric cars until the infrastructure has been upgraded accordingly.... You can't expect people to buy the car if the infrastructure doesn't support the car.

      OMG I have to put in an electrical outlet... Its not a big deal. The transition from horse stables to automobile garages a century or so ago was MUCH more impressive yet was handled pretty well.

      What is a big deal is the collision of three things, one is infrastructure related:

      1) Toyota is a Japanese company first, not solely an exporter. Yes the Americans love their imported Toyotas, and the Japanese are sensitive to our desires, but they're primarily a Japanese company first. Its not like Foxconn in Ch

  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:27AM (#41436511)

    We can't make it work with acceptable margins.

    Toyota has been an innovator in how production operates, not in building game changing new vehicles.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

      Toyota has been an innovator in how production operates, not in building game changing new vehicles.

      This only makes sense in Oppositeland. Toyota has pioneered the hybrid-electric market, selling each one at a net loss.

      • by sjbe (173966)

        Toyota has pioneered the hybrid-electric market, selling each one at a net loss.

        I guarantee you that Toyota is no longer selling the Prius at a loss. There is absolutely no business case that could be made to sell as many Prius's as they have while making a loss on each one. They probably were losing money at first but not anymore.

      • by Hillgiant (916436) on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:54AM (#41436953)

        ... selling each one at a net loss.

        False. [greencarcongress.com]

    • by sjbe (173966) on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:57AM (#41437003)

      We can't make it work with acceptable margins.

      If a company cannot sell a product for a profit, there is no point in making the product. Current technology for electric vehicles has one huge showstopper bug in the recharge times. Until this problem is solved there is no mass market for all electric vehicles. There will be room for niche makers like Tesla (maybe) but nothing more. Plug-In-Hybrids are where there is a market and where the car makers can and should focus their efforts.

      Toyota has been an innovator in how production operates, not in building game changing new vehicles.

      I disagree. The Prius was a game changing vehicle. It is the first genuinely popular hybrid vehicle and it proved that there is a market for hybrid powertrains. While I will concede that Toyota's most important innovations have been in manufacturing processes, they have had some genuinely innovative products.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        The Prius was a game changing vehicle. It is the first genuinely popular hybrid vehicle and it proved that there is a market for hybrid powertrains.

        I've seen more Ferraris on the road than Priuses.

        • by mikestew (1483105)

          I guess it depends on where you live. In Redmond, WA the things are everywhere and easily outnumber Ferraris. And Redmond has more than a few Ferraris running around.

        • by spitzak (4019)

          Have you been to an eye doctor to see about this problem? It sounds pretty serious.

      • Maybe in USA where diesel fuel is frowned upon, and engines are huge and cars are unnecessarily heavy & big, prius was a game changer.

        Here in Europe, where it has to complete with all modern 1.6l diesels, the added price & complexity & weight don't make much sense- fuel consumption will be very close. Well, people still buy it, but mostly as 'green' fashion statement.

        --Coder
  • by coolmoose25 (1057210) on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:33AM (#41436611)
    The problem with all electric cars is the charging... until an electric vehicle can be charged in the same time that a gasoline based car can be fueled, they will all be unacceptable to vast majority of drivers.

    What IS viable in the next few years is the plug in hybrid, like the Volt or the plug in Prius. The major problem here is getting unit costs down to where the cars become acceptable from a pricing POV. The Volt certainly has work to do here, and I'm guessing the Prius plug in faces the same problem. Incremental improvements in costs of the batteries will slowly bring these cars into the mainstream in the next few years. Cars like the Volt are, by all accounts, just like driving existing gasoline cars, and have the advantage of allowing most daily commutes to be done electrically.
    • I don't think cars are going to get there. Not cars like we know them. A car is, from the point of view of efficiency, a lot of dead weight. The thing weights about a ton and a half when it could easily weight just about 1/3 of that. I think electric motorcycles, which are much more efficient as personal transportation, have a higher chance of becoming viable.

      Here's an in-depth analysis of why electric cars won't happen anytime soon (I think he sets the bar for single-change mileage way too high, but nevert

    • until an electric vehicle can be charged in the same time that a gasoline based car can be fueled, they will all be unacceptable to vast majority of drivers.

      It doesn't have to be the same - it just has to be competitive. 15-20 minutes probably would be acceptable given the other advantages of an electric vehicle. Not as fast as filling a gas tank but close enough that people are willing to accept the differences. What is not acceptable and I think was your main point is that recharge times measured in hours are never going to be acceptable for mainstream use.

      • by will_die (586523)
        15-20 mins is not competitive; and you would need a 7500+ volt power supply to do that with current cars, will ignore other problems when you charge a battery that fast.
        You also have to factor in how long will I have to wait for my time at one of the plugs. With all the extra waiting you now have to have larger stations, which will have problems for cities, or you make it so that parking lots provide fueling which has other problems.
        The only way to make it competitive is for under 5 mins. Which means yo
    • Volt NOW (Score:5, Informative)

      by DCFusor (1763438) on Monday September 24, 2012 @11:30AM (#41437531) Homepage
      Yeah, I'm crazy. I traded in a perfectly fine 2010 Camaro SS to get a Volt the instant GM offered it in my market area. I LOVE this car. I can make nearly all my common trips on the battery alone, but if I can't, no worries, the gas engine fires up and you wouldn't usually be able to tell without looking at one of the color displays in the dash or console. Mine is charged off my solar power system, which is totally off-grid. I have used 18 gallons of gas in 2012 so far, in 6k or so miles, some of that because I *wanted* to run the engine to break it in.

      I haven't looked back. The Volt is far more agile in traffic and more fun on the twisty roads where I live than even the Camaro - and easier to see out of. It's not an econo box like a prius, it's a lux car. No, it's not as fast as the Camaro, but it's in some senses quicker, and eats ricky rice-racer for lunch on mountain roads.

      Despite claims to the contrary by ditto heads, GM is at or near breakeven on this car, by the car, now. Some of the hate on electrics is due to taking all the NRE and billing it to the number of cars sold already - by that metric, the first hamburger sold at a new burger joint franchise is losing a million bucks per. Check the facts. By all means do NOT drive a Volt unless you can afford to take it home - because you'll just be upset if you can't.

      You will also find a lot of the hate coming from funds provided by big oil, who get even more subsidies, not even counting the deaths overseas we create to keep oil "cheap". You don't think astroturfing was invented just for slashdot, right? GM's drivetrain is unique here - 2 electric motors and an ICE all connected to a dual input shaft CVT - patents Toyota doesn't want to have to buy, yet it's clearly the best way - and the clutches can be made to drop only at matched revs so they don't wear, and you don't feel it.

      I used to chuckle at the fanbois of other product lines. Now I understand. This thing is game-changing.

  • (hands over large brown paper bag, containing a huge amount of cash to director of Toyota)....

    Now, how is your quaint little green electric car project getting on. I hear you've run into a few problems with it?.... Well, im sure you'll be able to put this inconvenience behind us both and get on with some good old gasoline powered motors like you have always done.

    Kindest of regards, Director of ExxonMobile

  • electric ++ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Conficio (832978) on Monday September 24, 2012 @10:36AM (#41436655) Homepage

    I'd love to have a plug in electric, for the 85+% of short drives people make, +plus+ a trailer with a gas engine and a generator to power this car for longer distances. In my mind I would not even own this trailer, but rent it at a gas station. In addition that trailer could carry some additional luggage (and may be powered by its own motor).
    In that case I'd not even care if this trailer generates electricity from gasoline, from waste cooking oil, liquified gas or hydrogen. All I'd care about is if it gives me sufficient juice to drive my size vehicle and what it's range (tank capacity) would be.
    And with all electric we could have a drive by wire system that drives the trailer much more comfortable. I could even see steering in the trailer (which is easy if you have one electric motor per wheel, just run them at different speed) to eliminate the skills needed to back up with a trailer.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      the gas station might just as well rent you a vw passat.

      that is the real problem with range extenders.

    • Re:electric ++ (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Monday September 24, 2012 @12:07PM (#41438151)

      but rent it at a gas station

      I would rather rent an old fashioned gasoline car at the gas station. Enterprise rentacar and the rest have this whole thing down to a science, where random hotel clerks rent cars. Adding the training for gas station clerks would not be a heroic additional achievement. Some tow truck operators already have "affiliate" programs with rental companies.

      An ex coworker who rented a giant SUV for a cross country trip recently discovered another advantage of renting your cross country cruiser from a nationwide rental outfit.... you know what horrible things happens when you break down in the middle of nowhere 1000 miles from home? Nothing bad at all. In about an hour a dude shows up with a replacement vehicle and you continue your trip without a care in the world about the broken down car laying in the middle of nowhere. Renting... love it !

      If my daily driver broke down 1000 miles from home and I knew I had to be home and driving it to work next monday, I'd be absolutely shitting bricks about how much I'm about to get screwed by the locals, like Deliverance but with cars and car mechanics, and how the vacation trip is now utterly ruined, but if you rent and have all the insurance options, a breakdown is just "eh, interesting story, whatever".

  • tell that to tesla (the car manufacturer)!
  • While I would genuinely love to buy an all electric vehicle, the technology just isn't quite there yet. For an electric vehicle to be feasible it needs three things - 1) Performance competitive with internal combustion engine powered vehicles, 2) Range of about 150 miles, and 3) Recharge times under about 15-20 minutes. Item's 1 and 2 have been substantially accomplished. Electric vehicles are better in some ways and worse in others regarding performance, range, reliability and longevity but they have re

  • Like: http://www.toshiba.com/ind/product_display.jsp?id1=821 [toshiba.com] and direct drive Switched Reluctance motors.

    But, since they insist on Neanderthal ways of thinking, extinction is the result.

    • by TeknoHog (164938)
      So in other words, Toyota is reluctant to switch to these motors.
      • by kurt555gs (309278)

        Yes. Because Toyota has tons of patents on permanent magnet AC motors they use in Prius's, but none on the far more efficient Switched Reluctance type.

        This is more about patents than technology. Patents slowing innovation.

         

  • when will everyone figure out we should be driving around methane powered cars?

    yes, fracking the marcellus shale has the potential to make us energy independent, and also to unleash the worst ecological disaster in the history of mankind, poisoning water tables for millennia. however, if we actually allow ourselves to prevail over the greed of corporations and do it right (which means more cost, which means dragging the corporations kicking and screaming into the world of smaller profit margins for the sake

    • Self-serving as it might have been, T. Boone Pickens' idea was to use electric and hybrid for commuters and natural gas for heavy lifting vehicles.

  • by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Monday September 24, 2012 @11:14AM (#41437211)

    By the time an electric vehicle could charge so quickly as to be useful, we'll probably have self-driving cars. When self driving cars become a reality, we can throw the idea of car ownership out the window. As it stands, 99% of cars spend probably close to 99% of their time parked and unused. That is inefficient.

    If self-driving cars become a thing, a company could purchase huge fleets of cars. Then, instead of letting your own car sit in the parking lot forever, you could just use an app on your smartphone to send a self-driving car in your direction. Or you could just schedule your car to arrive at your location at some specific time (for instance, schedule to be picked up before and after work at precisely 8:00am and 5:00pm). Who needs car ownership--with costs of insurance, maintenance, gas prices, etc--when you can call for a cheap robotic taxi wherever, whenever you want? Relatively few people, I'd wager. It could start with cities, but eventually there would be so many self-driving cars on the road that you could have a self-driving car pick you up to take you wherever you wanted within minutes. Want to go to a restaurant? Send a request for a robot car to pick you up. Fortunately, there's a car that just dropped somebody else off to go shopping a mile away.

    Since these cars are self-driving, they could be electric and manage their power efficiently. If you call for a robotic taxi to take you to another state and it only has 50 miles left on its battery, the car could automatically schedule a car with a fresher battery for you to transfer to 50 miles down the road. The entire system would always make sure to minimize the number of transfers and recharge the cars whenever necessary.

    With a system like this, even electric cars with 200 mile range would be reasonable. That is more than enough for 99% of one-way passenger commutes, and for those trips that are long, you just hop in a new car 200 miles down the road. Heck, with this kind of self-driving car system, the system could even have tour guides and whatever else programmed in. The more cars on the road, the better the service. The better the service, the better the adoption rate. The better the adoption rate, the more cars. The possibilities are endless.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Better yet, own a self-driving car and tell it to drive randomly within the area while you're going to a place with limited parking. It would be awesome for events where buying fuel for 3 hours of low-speed driving is cheaper than the parking fees. The Prius c gets 65 mpg+ at low speeds. 3 hours at 30 mph would cost about $5.50 in fuel at $4/gallon instead of paying event parking rates.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HeckRuler (1369601)

      electric vehicle ... charge so quickly as to be useful

      You mean, overnight in my garage? During the 8 hours I'm at work?

      when you can call for a cheap robotic taxi wherever, whenever you want?

      How is this ANY different from a regular taxi? (other than paying an engineer to upkeep all the automated system rather then 5 immigrants driving the cars). And don't get me wrong, in some places taxis make sense. But they don't make sense everywhere. Indeed, other than big cities where owning a car is a pain, taxi services just don't cut it.

      Also, no, electric cars with 200 mile range would be horrible for taxis. They have to run ALL DAY. N

  • ...of gasoline. Not sure about natural gas, but I'm reasonably sure the energy density is higher than that of a lithium battery. Natural gas vehicles are used widely outside of the USA, and we do have a bit of the stuff. Capitalism, exhibiting its usual bacteria colony behavior, will almost certainly push us in that direction unless there's some sort of breakthrough in battery tech.

  • The idea of all electric cars has always seemed so appealing. Zero emissions (well, I'll get to that in a minute), and economical (I'll get to that too). It's development always seems to go in fits and starts. And we always seem to run up against the same issues time and time again...namely:

    1) Battery technology, although improved, is still not where it needs to be to make all electric cars a viable alternative for the majority of people. America, unlike much of Europe and many large cities in Asia, is very

    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      1) So because the USA doesn't want to use them (and let's be honest a significant portion of the US could use them with no downside), the rest of the world should just forget them?
      2) Charging stations will be constructed if there is demand for it. That's only a problem for so long as we say electric cars don't work.
      3) Goes back to 1: unless you're doing ridiculously large round-trips, 200-300mi range (which is entirely achievable using current technology) is more than enough for the average commute and a ru

  • If you want to make electric cars more popular and push the technology, then start holding electric car races with a really big winning purse. Then you'll have millions of innovators in garages all over the country working on improvements to electric vehicle technology.

    Toyota failed because they approached it as a different type of car instead of a new type of transportation.

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