Toyota to have lithium ion hybrid on the market by next year

A ‘plug-in’ version of the third-generation Toyota Prius powered by lithium ion batteries will be ready for market early in 2010.

In an exclusive interview for Autocar, Toyota’s Executive Vice President responsible for research and development, Masatami Takimoto, confirmed that the company’s long-standing scepticism towards lithium ion battery technology has now been put to rest.

“We have made much development progress with lithium ion batteries over the last six months,” said Takimoto. “We are now convinced that they can be used in our future plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, although our cheaper hybrid models will continue to use nickel metal hydride batteries.”

The first of Toyota’s lithium ion-powered cars will be a ‘plug-in’ version of the Prius, which will be available in Japan later this year, and will come to the UK in very limited numbers at first in early 2010.

The car’s zero-emissions electric-only range – the distance it will travel on battery power alone after a full mains charge – is not yet set in stone, but it’s expected to be no more than 20 miles. That being the case, however, it will need a much smaller lithium ion battery pack than the GM Volt, and so will be cheaper; expect a sub-£30k price tag.

Extended electric-only running won’t be the only thing going for the ‘plug-in’ Prius, however. Toyota has been trialing the lithium ion battery technology in collaboration with EDF Energy, in development cars running around Paris. It has found them to return between 60 and 80 per cent better fuel economy than the nickel metal hydride version once the combustion engine comes into play, depending on usage.

Takimoto also confirmed Toyota’s plans for a lithium-ion battery only ‘EV’ city car – “not an iQ, but something similar in size,” – which will arrive in 2012.

Matt Saunders

Geneva cars: news and images

Chery DR, Ferrari 599XX, Ford Iosis Max, Frazer Nash Namir, Hyundai ix-onic, Infiniti Essence, Kia No3, Lagonda Concept, Lamborghini Murcielago SV, Land Rover Freelander TD4_e, Mazda CX-7, Mini JCW Cabriolet, Mitsubishi iMIEV Sport Air, Nissan Qazana, Renault Megane RS, RUF Greenster, Skoda Fabia vRS, Skoda Yeti, Tata Nano Europa, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Polo

Autocar.tv: see Mike Duff's in-depth Geneva show coverage

Lagonda Concept, Skoda Yeti, Rolls Royce 200 EX, Vauxhall Ampera, Nissan Qazana, Infiniti Essence, Bentley Continental Supersports, Ford Iosis Max

Video blogs from the show floor

Audi TT RS, Ferrari 599XX, Hyundai ix-onic concept, Kia No3, Lamborghini Murcielago SV, Mercedes E-class coupe, Peugeot 3008, Renaultsport Megane, Subaru Legacy, VW Polo

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried
  • First Drive
    27 February 2015
    Dual motors and a power hike give Tesla's electric family car supercar acceleration - and the rest of the package is as strong as ever
  • Car review
    26 February 2015
    Flagship performance C-Class is more than ever a true rival for BMW's M3, and impresses with both its breadth of ability and its practicality
  • First Drive
    26 February 2015
    The new Renault Megane GT 220 is essentially a toned-down version of the hallowed Renaultsport 275, but does it have the required DNA?
  • First Drive
    20 February 2015
    Remember Mercedes' 6x6 monster off-roader? Well, this is the 4x4 version, and we've driven it.