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Toyota's EV Strategy

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by Doug_G, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    I was at a presentation today by John Paul Farag of Toyota Canada's Advanced Technology & Powertrain division, at a meeting on sustainable energy by the Ottawa Chapter of the Professional Engineers, Ontario. His view (and Toyotas) is that hybrid technology is the way of the future.

    He repeated a couple of times during the presentation that an advantage of hybrids is "you don't have to plug in". He also emphasized that people were used to the operation and maintenance of this type of vehicle, and they used existing infrastructure.

    He talked about marketing challenges, that most people didn't understand the benefits and that compromises were not necessary. He specifically talked about customer confusion about hybrid and electric vehicles, including that caused by Toyota itself by "adding a plug" to some of their own offerings. When he talked about the Plug-in Prius he first talked about its advantages and how it met 75% of Canadian consumer's commuting needs on pure electric. He then turned around and hedged saying it might not be the right solution for you depending on your usage, and that a regular hybrid could be better.

    He showed a couple of diagrams showing the range of vehicles of the future, with "pure EVs" relegated to short-range commuter and delivery vehicles (with appropriate picture of a tiny econobox). Long-distance driving vehicles would be plug-in hybrids, and larger vehicles would be hybrids. The biggest vehicles would be hydrogen fuel cell.

    He also pointed to limitations of pure EVs in cold weather conditions, such as "losing 58% of their range at -18C". (That's a heck of an exaggeration, even for a Leaf without cold weather package.)

    He stated that Toyota is committed to bringing hydrogen fuel cells to market by 2020. He claimed that the major disadvantages of the technology have all been solved, and they're just working to reduce cost by 50%. He also pointed to zero emissions and multiple sources of hydrogen as being an advantage. (Without pointing out, of course, that the main source is natural gas, and that electrolyzing water brought your efficiency back down to ICE levels.)

    He did mention the Rav4 EV project in conjunction with Tesla. (He didn't say they were building it in Ontario but you can't buy it here.)

    He said that 81% of hybrid vehicles sold in Canada are from Toyota, but that only about 1.5% of all vehicles sold last year were hybrid or electric. Long way to go on that front.

    It was a nicely done presentation, and sounded all very reasonable. Unfortunately I have strong disagreements with the general attitude of Toyota about EVs, and about the practicality of hydrogen. (I suppose hydrogen might make sense for long-haul trucks.)
     
  2. rolosrevenge

    rolosrevenge Dr. EVS

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    Right behind you...
    Because of their Tesla partnership, they can sadly put their resources elsewhere and if/when EVs prove everyone wrong, simply start producing a lot more Rav4s powered by Tesla. It's a good strategy actually, since they're big enough they can afford the best technology. Look for them to always have a "compliance" EV in the mix, powered by Tesla, just in case they need some EVs quick.
     
  3. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    So you put hydrogen in the vehicle, and it just vanishes? The car comes with its own black hole?

    Or did he mean "zero emissions that we consider undesirable"?
     
  4. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    He claimed the hydrogen cars emit only water vapour. Of course we know the most economical source of hydrogen is natural gas.

    Funny thing is, the slide he showed of comparative advantages made natural gas fuel look better.
     
  5. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    I can't go into great detail, but this post is a good reflection of TMS in general and their view toward EVs. While they saw a tremendous payoff in hybrids despite the initial risk and skepticism (much greater, I think, than the risk and skepticism about BEVs), the change in leadership has taken a decidedly conservative shift. I think that if the economy were much stronger they'd be more willing to take risks and expand the EV fleet beyond the current compliance vehicles they're forced to build and maybe make a more practical Plug-in hybrid that would be a challenger to the Volt. But it is clear to me, despite my empassioned discussions with top TMS leadership, that there is no intention of expanding now. They've chosen to become followers in the alternative energy vehicle market rather than remain as the leaders they once were. I think it's a bad business decision (in the long term), and a bad marketing choice overall.
     
  6. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Don't forget the $50 million+ they invested in Tesla, the "deal of a lifetime" they gave on the factory space, and the contracts for RAV4EV components.
    Toyota may be lackadaisical in their commitment to BEVs, but they have certainly helped give Tesla a boost.
     
  7. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    The NUMMI deal was probably a "win-win" for them. They traded a problem (distraction to dispose of it, some ongoing cost to keep it, something of a white elephant) for some potentially valuable shares in Tesla and possibly access to technology in the future.

    Rav4 EV is a compliance car. It allows Toyota to put in a minimal effort to get past the CARB rules. It just so happens that Tesla benefits from it.

    Even though Toyota has obviously decided that hybrids are the future, I don't think this was a hard decision to make.
     
  8. eMileage

    eMileage Member

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    I attempted to submit a reply (via Playbook) but I'm not sure if it made it through (was prompted to log in). If it does, get through please feel free to delete the duplicate message. Thx. :redface:

    - - - Updated - - -

    I attended a similar presentation by JP at Toyota in the fall. Toyota has been very adept at implementing successful business strategy. They tend to be conservative while at the same time pushing some boundaries. It would be nice if they more agressively pursued BEVs, or at least made their current offering, the RAV4EV more widely available. But the fact is, fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles.

    The only major issue I have with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, is something that Toyota may see as a potential benefit. That is, the refueling of vehicles. Customers and drivers of hydrogen fuel cell would likely not need make any extensive behavoural changes or undergo any significant training to be able to use and refuel their vehicles (which could be a big benefit for vehicle sales). It would be unfortunate to perpetuate the current gas station paradigm and all of the drawbacks that go with it. But people are slow/reluctant to change. At the very least, I would hope that they use clean sources of power and renewable methods in the production of the hydrogen, either at or very close to the fueling stations.

    I personally believe that few people enjoy having to go to a gas station, and that given the option, most would prefer to fuel/charge up at home. I also enjoy the benefit of being able to generate my own fuel/electricity.
     
  9. mitch672

    mitch672 Active Member

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    Toyota invested $1 Billion+ in the late 90's, early 2000's in hybrid technology and "hybrid synergy drive" and they intend to ride it to the end.

    When battery pricing drops enough in cost, volume, and weight, they'll probably call on their Tesla engineering buddies to help them get something to market, but they have a clear ambivalence towards EVs at the current time.
    I've owned 4 Prius in the last 12 years, and the latest was the 2012 Plug in Prius, just enough EV to make you happy... Then, the engine kicks on :(
     
  10. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Particularly when Akio himself takes a personal interest...
     
  11. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    The irony is that Toyota repeatedly comes out in polls as a green brand, but the reality is they are now blocking taking green motoring to the next level - by spreading this kind of FUD, by populating garages with a puny PHEV which stops customers getting something better for another purchase cycle and by continuing this hydrogen mirage.
     
  12. rcsting

    rcsting Member

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    I drive a Prius Plug In and it has turned out to be a gateway vehicle for me. It has really opened my eyes to EV. My next car will be a Model S. :).
     
  13. mitch672

    mitch672 Active Member

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    I still have my Plug in Prius, should have just skipped it :) it's for sale if anyone is looking for a 10 mile EV :)
     
  14. Al Sherman

    Al Sherman It's about THIS car.

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    Exactly. I've loved my Prius for a long time. But, it's almost over. They don't share the dream. When 50k more Model S cars are on the road they'll probably change their tune. I firmly believe that the best thing we can do to help Tesla other than buy cars is to help sell them. Let strangers see, and drive the car. It'll sell a lot of Model S, X, AND Gen III cars.
     
  15. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Ditto. In 2001 and 2004 when I purchased mine, they were really great cars that looked to the future. Now they are rather old technology and Toyota hasn't really done anything but make them bigger and put larger engines and motor/generators in them. By rights, they should be 200 mpg cars by now. Toyota no longer makes the cars I want to buy--Tesla does.
     
  16. Jaff

    Jaff Active Member

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    Same here Jerry...loyal Lexus customer for 7 years...didn't even look at another brand's hybrid vehicles...as of a month ago, bye bye Lexus, now have two Teslas...the cows will come home...
     
  17. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    To be fair to Toyota, they have a big brand to protect. People can buy into a startup that is prone to have issues and tolerate it better than an established giant. Look at the backlash on the Leaf's battery issue. Also, even the Model S isn't for everyone. The range, while impressive, still isn't up to the task of a lot of folks driving habits. Let's not forget the fact that folks in cities will find it harder to charge at home too.

    IMO, they're playing it safe until the technology matures. I think either that, or a sub brand, are likely the best options right now.
     
  18. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    The problem with this is that Toyota has actively fought every EV initiative, is promoting hydrogen as being better than EVs, and is only doing the minimum possible in jurisdictions where it couldn't get the laws repealed.
     
  19. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    I've never owned or driven a Hydrogen-powered car, but aren't they similar to gas cars? i.e. fuel them up and they go hundreds of miles and you just need to (quickly) refuel at an appropriate station? Just playing devil's advocate, but in areas where this is possible, I can see a consumer choosing that instead.
     
  20. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    There's actually a whole thread on this, but yes it helps keep the dealer model intact because the dealer doesn't have to change anything. However, hydrogen isn't all that dense so you give up all the trunk's cargo space, and even then you have to keep it between 6000 and 12000 psi--assuming you want a 300 mile range. It takes about 5x the energy to create the hydrogen as you get from it. IMHO, the main thing that hydrogen is good for is being the fuel of the future so that you can continue business as usual. This was true twenty years ago, it's true today, and it will likely be true in another twenty years.
     

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