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[greenyes] Toyota/Lexus hybrids

from Thomas Register online
"Hybrids? I Got a Million of ?Em."
August 04, 2005

By Mark Devlin

The above quote is from Jim Press, Toyota's U.S. president and chief operating officer.
(Well, not really.) But that?s his goal for early next-decade.

In an article here a few months back, I lauded the viability of hybrid vehicles. Wow. I?m
so far ahead of my time. (Well, not really.) Not only has Toyota announced a new, bigger,
better push for hybrids, but also bigger, better hybrids.

According to this article on, which quotes Reuters and Automotive News (Doesn?t
anyone do original reporting anymore? [Well, not really.])?

?The world's second-biggest automaker is also aiming for hybrid vehicles to account for at
least 25 percent of its U.S. sales in the same time period,? Jim Press, Toyota's U.S.
president and chief operating officer, told Reuters on the sidelines of an auto conference
in this northern Michigan resort.

?Meeting a global goal of 1 million hybrid vehicles would mean that Toyota would have to
sell about 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. alone,? Press said, according to a report from
Automotive News, an industry newspaper.

?To achieve that goal, we will have to look at offering hybrid power systems in virtually
all of our vehicles, including trucks,? Press told Automotive News.

Twenty-five percent of the world?s second largest auto manufacturer?s sales? That?s

Toyota?s Lexus brand, since our last Hybrid installment, has also introduced the first
luxury hybrid SUV, the RX 400h. They?re finally getting the point: ?hybrid? doesn?t have
to mean tiny, misshapen, and underpowered. Instead, it?s rated at 268 hp (compared to it?s
gas-engined sibling, the RX 300, with 38 hp less.), is 33% more fuel efficient, certified
as a Super Low Emissions Vehicle, scoots from 0-60 in 7.2 seconds despite 300 lbs. more
heft, and still functions as a relatively roomy Ute.

According to

The battery pack, which is the heart of the hybrid system, is under the Lexus 400h's rear
seat. With 30 modules comprised of eight cells per module its total peak power is
80-percent stronger than the Prius's, which has six cells per module. Plus, it's packed
into a new metal case for improved heat rejection and reduced size. So it wouldn't disrupt
the truck's 40/20/40-split rear-seat configuration, the pack's been split into three
groups and its height has been reduced by 22 percent over the Prius's.

I built my own on the Lexus website. Starting from a base of $49,791; one option (with a
few other goodies included) squirted the price up to $51,212.

Toyota has also introduced the Highlander Hybrid (a High-Hy?), sporting the same 268 hp,
?real world gas mileage in the 20s? and ?terrific acceleration, according to Edmunds. Base
starts at $39,855 and, with a few good options (including a car guy-mandatory chrome
exhaust tip but no wussy running boards) squeaked the total to $43,039. (Keep in mind that
both vehicles as priced here included 4WD.)

(Huggin? trees ain?t cheap these days.)

In other relatively recent news, DaimlerChrysler and GM (Wouldn?t that be Mercedes,
Chrysler and GM? How bizarre is that?) have joined forces to ?develop two-mode full hybrid
propulsion system.? The piece continues, ?Variants planned include rear- and
front-wheel-drive versions for cars, trucks and other vehicles.?

According to this reference, GM is planning Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra hybrids for
2007. I wouldn?t think that the masses will flock to them, however, with unimpressive
(4WD) city/highway numbers of 17 and 19, respectively. Um, has GM noticed that the EPA
rates their 4.8L V8 gas engine-powered Chevy K1500 Silverado 4WD at 16/20? Even the 5.3
gets 15/19. Excuse me, General?but what the hell are you thinkin'?

At any rate, things are looking up for hybrids. Maybe tree-huggers and earth &*%^#$! alike
will soon be able to join hands and flash gleaming white smiles to the cameras while
singing We Are the World.

Hey, gimme a 500-hp Excursion that gets 40 mpg and I?ll be pleased. Better yet, gimme one
of these that gets 25 mpg and I?ll be happier than a fat kid with a roll o' Smarties. They
can deliver it, and bill me later.

Engineers working on hybrid projects have been very, very busy.
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Dan Weisenbach
Columbus, Ohio

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