Questions about expense, reliability and profitability are good reasons for Toyota to take its time on a plug-in electric hybrid, a company executive said Monday.
Yoshitaka Asakura, project general manager in Toyota's hybrid vehicle system-engineering division, said Monday in an article in The Wall Street Journal that Toyota is taking into account that not all consumers, despite vocal environmentalist groups, may be interested in a car that has to be re-charged daily.
Toyota executives spoke at several break-out sessions on emissions reduction, battery technology and design strategy on Monday at the 2007 Tokyo International Automotive Conference, of which Toyota and The Wall Street Journal are sponsors.
Katsuaki Watanabe, Toyota's president, is scheduled to give a speech at the conference Tuesday to outline his company's goals.
The company's attitude toward plug-in electric hybrids is noticeably more conservative than the one that rival General Motors has put forth.
GM has promised that its Chevy Volt, a plug-in electric hybrid car that will run on lithium-ion batteries, will be tested in spring 2008 and . The company has been touring the concept Chevy Volt car around the U.S. to promote its future sale.
Toyota has not given a timetable for when its plug-in electric car will be available to consumers, though it has been working on.
The company has also said in the past that current battery technology may be too expensive at this point to make a plug-in electric commercially viable. Some have estimated that it costs about
In answer to critics' questions of battery expense,to release its car at an affordable price.
All the rhetoric comes amid an ongoing battle of some automakers againstfrom the current 25 mpg to 35 mpg by 2020. The bill requires automakers to either improve the mileage of trucks and sport utility vehicles and/or introduce more efficient cars in their lineup to bring down their overall fleet average.