Toyota’s long-term vehicle strategy: move beyond petroleum

Lynne Kiesling

On Wednesday Toyota announced that they would release a plug-in hybrid vehicle by 2010, and that they will manufacture hybrid versions of all vehicles over the next 20 years. The battery in the PHEV will be lithium ion, but Toyota is working on developing nickel metal hydride batteries, as well as other battery technologies and storage options.

Toyota seems to be taking what I think of as a portfolio approach to our vehicular future, as described in this Wired article:

The company’s ambitious “low-carbon” agenda includes cranking out 1 million hybrids a year and eventually offering hybrid versions of every model it sells. In the short-term, Toyota says it will produce more fuel efficient gasoline and diesel engines and push alternative fuels like cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. It’s also pumping big money into lithium-ion batteries. With fuel prices going through the roof and auto sales going through the floor because of it, Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe says the auto industry has no choice but to move beyond petroleum.

“Without focusing on measures to address global warming and energy issues, there can be no future for our auto business,” he told reporters in Tokyo, adding, “Our view is that oil production will peak in the near future. We need to develop power train(s) for alternative energy sources.”

He then goes on to point out that oil supplies will not dry up and internal combustion will not disappear overnight, and that a portfolio approach will address the various uncertainties and differences in local market conditions across time and place.