Toyota to test-run advanced gasoline-electric hybrid cars

Toyota Motor Corp. recently announced that they will test-run advanced gasoline-electric hybrid cars for public road tests in Japan and plans tests for the U.S. and Europe. These gasoline-electric hybrid cars can cut fuel costs by some 40% compared with those of its Prius gasoline-electric hybrid.

The upcoming competitive hybrid technologies, Plug-in hybrids, whose batteries can be recharged via a standard wall outlet, are being developed by other major automakers like GM and Ford.
The Plug-in hybrid technology which also normally powered by traditional hybrid electric motors and gasoline engines (gets recharged by converting energy from braking and when the wheels spin). But the advantage of the plug-in variety is that it runs longer on electricity than regular hybrids.

Toyota is the first manufacturer to receive government approval to conduct tests for a plug-in hybrid on Japanese public roads, it said, and will collect information about the tests from eight plug-in vehicles for the government about emissions and fuel efficiency and plan to test in US and Europe too.

Mass production of plug-ins is so far being held back by costs and battery technology that limit the vehicles' range. Manufacturers are racing to bring the technology to market as consumers seek alternatives to traditional engines and high gasoline prices.
Plug-in hybrids generally have batteries that power an electric motor, in addition to an internal combustion engine that kicks in when the batteries run low. The batteries can be recharged by plugging them into a standard electrical outlet.
The advantage of plug-in hybrid cars is that they emit no exhaust on short trips because they run entirely on electricity from an external power source.
The cars can use conventional hybrid systems for longer trips, extending their range.
Conventional hybrids generate electricity to power an electric motor using electricity, gasoline or both.
Toyota's prototype plug-in hybrid can run 13 kilometers on a single charge using two Prius batteries, Takimoto said.
If the car is recharged during off-peak overnight electricity rates in Japan, the fuel cost is 41% lower than that of the Prius, Takimoto said.
If the advanced hybrid were driven in France, the car could cut carbon dioxide emissions by 45% compared with those of the Prius, he said, noting the country gets much of its electricity from low-carbon nuclear power.

General Motors is developing the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, and says it hopes its plug-ins can reach showrooms by 2010. Ford also announced a partnership with Southern California Edison to test rechargeable hybrid vehicles and hasten mass production of plug-in hybrids. Ford has been testing plug-in hybrids based on the Escape sport-utility vehicle, for one, but has not said when it plans to start mass producing them.