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Henrik - "However, why can't Toyota drop the outdated and polluting Nickel-Metal battery? " Probably because there are advantages to the NiMH for a Hybrid vehicle - the primary one being that it doesn't loose capacity over time like a Li one does. If I was buying a hybrid to keep for 10 years and had a choice on the Prius between a NiMH and a Li, I'd take the NiMH as I wouldn't have to worry about its capacity later on and its (and the associated car's) value. My guess would be the normal hybrid has the NiMH and the plug-in has the Li like before (course if Toyota wants to go anywhere saleswise with the plug-in they need to drastically increase the range offered).
As a former Gen 2 and current Gen 3 owner, I can safely say that the super aggressive looking front end is too ugly for me to buy (looking at it the front is styled like its a raging Celica GTS / Supra which is a joke on a Prius) - did Toyota hire the guy that did the front ends for the past generation of Mazda vehicles, killing their sales in the U.S.? The rest of it is quirky (the back-end belongs on a Celica GTS / Supra again), but I could live with it...but that front end, forget it...somehow I doubt I'm the only one that will feel that way. Sounds like some models will have NiMH packs and others the ever capacity losing Li, curious about details on that (NiMH that doesn't loose capacity is why I got the Gen 3, probably not interested in Li). Other than the styling it seems like a good update...but Toyota is missing the bus on Plug Ins (with real range) as that is probably what I'll replace my Gen 3 with.
Great post & experiences Herman - this is the one reason I'd consider a Volt over a Leaf at this point, I live in the same area - just to be able to run the engine for the heat in the winter. Definitely seems like we need a better more efficient electric heating device - makes me wonder how efficient those mini microwave water heaters are (used now for individual faucets etc. - since a full on microwave warms water prodiciously off 110 volts), would seem to be an ideal solution.
"Most applicants and manufacturers also noted that public problems with the Solyndra default and other DOE programs have tarnished the ATVM loan program. They believed the negative publicity makes DOE more risk-averse or makes companies wary of being associated with government support." Mission Accomplished - courtesy of the Republican Party media frenzy regarding Solyndra, paid and guided by the Fossil Fuel Manufacturers of America. "What requirements, if any, are there for the oil companies to get this money? Do they meet them, do we get our money's worth, could we get a better return on something else?" Well, since the oil companies aren't trying to manufacture advanced technology vehicles they probably aren't able to qualify (that's what the loan program was for - building cars). But don't worry in 2012 with oil at record high prices (and profits right up in the stratosphere) the top 5 oil Companies in the U.S. got $2.4 Billion in tax breaks according to a CNN/Money article.
The folks that made this awful PR base decision (we go with 47mpg even though normal drivers will have trouble touching 40mpg) should be fired (and then that news spread around the executive ranks liberally to prevent a recurrence - Ford has a history of shortsighted Executive decision making....thinking of the exploding Pinto days). About the only way I could see how they got these numbers is when they did the estimates, Ford let the vehicle accelerate totally on its battery (probably accelerating ridiculously slowly to achieve that) preventing ICE startup for as long as possible (and making sure the battery was topped off before each section of the test was started).
Very, very good we just need to see them do the easy part (haha) and take it from research to production...but man this would be a step up (especially the cycle capacity issue) take me here ASAP.
I was thinking of how outrageous that cost for L2 chargers was too. You can buy one as a consumer for less than $1k and the City of Yucaipa is paying $12k for them, even considering it being a weatherized version it seems a ripoff....they should be getting L3 chargers for that price.
Nice to see Nissan doing this, with the limited range of the Leaf - long suburban trips are often out of the question - but an L3 charger along the way would make it much more feasible when needed. I think the Tesla superchargers are 90kW chargers - and I often wonder when looking to the future (i.e. 2020 and beyond where we have 250-300 mile range packs for alot more cars) if the 50kW L3 chargers we're setting ourselves up with will be too slow.
Its nice to see Ford finally getting this vehicle out, much better looking than the Leaf IMHO. Ford isn't going to sell nearly the number that Nissan sells Leaf's, but Ford isn't trying to (slow rollout, low production numbers and high price). Come Focus Electric v2 (years and years from now) and we'll see a Ford designed EV setup (no Magna located inverter in the trunk) and larger volume sales targets. Nissan has bet a huge chunk of the farm on plug-in sales and is building massive manufacturing capacity to make that happen (half-a-decade ahead of anyone else) - they know they'll need to drop prices significantly to do that, I hope they can. Will people still buy some Ford Focus Electrics even if Leaf prices go down, sure and Ford isn't interested in making alot of them - it covers their ZEV requirement in CA and dips their toe in the water of the EV market in preparation for the future.
"it's just so ironic since Toyota is the only company to build a decent EV (Rav4EV). " Very true - wish they had those available now with Li... Toyota has delayed and delayed things ever since they were forced into announcing the program. Personally, with ~80% of the profitable (for them) hybrid market - I think Toyota wants to keep things as they are for as long as possible. From a business standpoint it makes total sense.
I was getting the impression they'd be setting miles of the ocean on fire, but its actually just whats inside of a 500 ft long boom? Doesn't even sound like its worth the trouble when taken into the context of the size of the spill. Every little bit helps I guess - good luck to them on this.