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Toyota: We'll stick with nickel-metal

Automotive News reports on Toyota's battery plans for its hybrid vehicles.

TOKYO--While rivals rush to install lithium ion batteries in hybrid vehicles, Toyota, the hybrid leader, says it may stick with older-generation nickel-metal hydride batteries for as long as another decade.

Shinzo Kobuki, senior managing director in charge of Toyota's battery technology, said lithium ion batteries gradually will be introduced, but they will be reserved mostly for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

"The improved efficiency from converting to lithium ion batteries from nickel-metal hydride is at best 1 percent to 2 percent in the vehicle's performance," Kobuki said last month in an interview. Lithium ion batteries have higher energy density. But hybrids need batteries that discharge and recharge rapidly, a trait better suited to nickel-metal, he said.

He said one reason companies are turning to lithium batteries is that they don't have capacity to make nickel-metal batteries at low cost.

Toyota, through its Primearth EV Energy joint venture with Panasonic, has been making nickel-metal batteries for a decade.

(Source: Automotive News)