Toyota Hybrid Propulsion Prius Car

Toyota Hybrid Propulsion Prius Car

Toyota has been developing a hybrid automobile propulsion system (engine and battery) for a few years. We (RBBI) have been trying to bring it to the attention of the boating industry which so far has not even "blinked". The new hybrid system was featured in a Dec. 15, 1997 Business Week article. The Prius (auto) goes on sale in Japan on December 10th.

RBBI comment - Hello out there, is anybody listening? It doesn't take to long to envision using the gas engine and battery to get up on plane or pop-up a skier and then using only battery power to cruise.You might even be able to use the prop as a regenerative braking system. Toyota is now in the boat business. Their new hybrid power unit doubles fuel efficiency and slashes emissions by 90% - what might be the next step???
We stongly encourage the majors to "get their feet wet" with this new technology to see if it holds promise for boating applications. Otherwise they may be on the sidelines like Detroit.

Toyota Touts Dual Benefits Of Hybrid Power System

Wall Street Journal March 26, 1997 Page A-12
By VALERIE REITMAN Staff Reporter 

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp., in what may be a significant conservation breakthrough, introduced a hybrid electric-and-gasoline power system that it claims doubles fuel efficiency while slashing emissions by 90% compared with conventional engines.

The hybrid system combines a gasoline engine, an electric motor, and a nickel-metal hydride battery on a single power train. The gasoline engine supplies the main power to drive the wheels. But the electric battery and electric generator can also supply power to the electric motor. The hybrid system will be included in a yet-to-be-disclosed model that will go on sale in Japan later this year.

Targeting Mass Sales

Toyota said it will aim the hybrid system at the mass market. Whether it can succeed will depend in large part on the price, which Toyota hasn't yet announced. So far, high prices of other purely electric-powered vehicles -- including Toyota's electric version of the RAV4 sport-utility vehicle -- have kept sales extremely low. "It's nice to have the technology, but they've got to sell to have an impact on the environment," said Securities Ltd. analyst Peter Boardman.

Nevertheless, the auto maker appears to have resolved the other major barriers impeding the popularity of low-emissions vehicles: short battery life and limited power. The electric battery in the hybrid "won't run out of juice" and needn't ever be recharged under normal circumstances, said Akihiro Wada, Toyota's executive vice president for research and development. Though its performance won't quite match that of conventional gasoline engines, it will have roughly the same horsepower and thus be adequate for highway driving, Mr. Wada said. Most electric vehicles can only run for relatively short distances without recharging.

In a vehicle using Toyota's new system, all power from idling to about 32 kilometers per hour is supplied by the electric motor. Above that speed, the power comes primarily from the gasoline engine, assisted by the electric motor. Fuel economy is boosted by other mechanisms, such as automatically cutting off the gasoline engine when the vehicle stops and regenerating energy accumulated while decelerating.

Smaller Battery

The hybrid's battery is about one-sixth the size and weight of those of pure electric vehicles. That reduces costs of expensive materials such as nickel and hydrogen alloys. The first hybrid car will have a 1.5-liter engine, about the size of the Toyota Corolla's engine. Toyota said the car will run about twice as far on a tank of gas as the Corolla, which gets about 28 kilometers per gallon.

Toyota is hoping to use the system in several models, but said it hasn't decided whether it will be introduced in the U.S. Because the hybrid burns gasoline, it wouldn't be able to meet California's stringent requirements for "zero emissions" in 800,000 cars on California highways by 2010, though it would qualify as a "low emissions" vehicle.

Toyota is hoping California environmental officials will ease the standards to allow hybrids to qualify, said Takehisa Yaegashi, chief engineer of Toyota's hybrid system. Last year, California did back off its previous requirement that 2% of California vehicles sold in 1998 and beyond have zero emission.

Hybridpower systems have been around for a few years but have been used primarily in trucks and buses. Volkswagen AG's Audi division has developed one for cars.

Ford MotorCo. unveiled plans to build a prototype engine capable of running 96 to 112 kilometers on a gallon of fuel, depending on how it is paired with an electric motor.

Copyright © 1997 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A Peek Under the Hood

Business Week 15 December 1997
RBBI summary: Prius is powered by and engine and an electric motor. They are used independently to boost efficiency and reduce pollution. The geneartor charges the battery and acts as the car's starter.


Business Week 15 December 1997
pages 108-110.
By Emily Thornton in Tokyo, with Keith Naughton
in Detroit and David Woodruff in Frankfurt

Toyota and rivals are betting on pollution fighters. Will they succeed?

RBBI comments: This is an excellent article with some indepth coverage of the issues. We suggest you read it from Business Week's site or the original print edition if you are interested in this field.

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