By the year 2010 a plug-in hybrid vehicle will be available in Japan, the US and Europe as part of the green strategy released by Toyota on June 11 last week. The vehicles will be run with next-generation lithium-ion batteries and will be rechargeable from an electrical outlet. The ecological petrol-electric cars will be aimed at leasing customers and will operate longer and cleaner than regular hybrids.
The initiative comes as part of Toyota’s larger plan to create a more sustainable practice and to meet consumer demand from suffering drivers who are feeling the oil price crunch and who are becoming conscious consumers in the face of global warming.
“Without focusing on measures to address global warming and energy issues, there can be no future for our auto business,” Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe said.
As part of the growing interest in greening the auto business Toyota has initiated a number of programs that were announced last week. It has committed to increasing research in battery technology to develop a solution that could outperform the lithium-ion battery, which is currently intended for use in the new plug-in hyrbrid. The company is also focusing on improving all model mileage rates and is working on fuel cell vehicles as an additional alternative for the green auto business. Furthermore, Toyota plans to set up more environmentally friendly factories as a further measure to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions.
Toyota hybrids are increasingly popular, with record sales of over 1.5million hybrids globally so far. The increasing production and model expansion of hybrids, from the Camry hybrid in Australia and Thailand to the new plug-in hybrid for Japanes, European and North American markets, are clear indicators of the efforts being made to ‚Äògreen’ cars, so as to minimize environmental damage and meet consumer demands.
More in the NYtimes.