Toyota Announces Plug in Hybrid

It looks like the announcements on plug in hybrids are starting to come.  Plug in hybrids allow for the battery to be recharged from the electricity grid, in addition to recharging from the gasoline engine.

There are some interesting facts outlined by Toyota about their hybrid.  I have believed that when a car is operating on grid electricity instead of gasoline, that the fuel cost per mile would be less.  This is because an electric engine is inherently more efficient, producing less waste heat, than a gasoline engine.  Now we have proof.

Toyota claims their plug in Prius will run 11 km on a charge, which is 2.7 KWh.  That is a lot less than the 40 miles that GM is claiming for the Chevy volt – presumably Toyota’s batteries are smaller.  2.7 kWh costs about 27 cents in Ontario, at a 10 cent/kWh price.  So the cost per km is 2.7 cents.  My Prius is averaging about 5.5 l/100 km, which at $1/litre, works out to 5.5 cents per km.

So the cost of driving on grid electricity is half of the cost of running on gasoline.  If the price of gasoline rises to $1.50/litre, as some forecasters suggest for this summer, the cost of operating on electricity will be 1/3.

Total emissions will be much lower for using grid electricity except possible where the grid is coal dominated.

Toyota says that the car will recharge in 4 hours, and that it plugs into a standard 110 V outlet.  They have proposed to use Lithium Ion batteries.  They say that the car will be first introduced to fleet customers in 2010, and may not be available to the general public for awhile.  But as the world’s innovator in hybrid technology, this announcement from Toyota is significant.
If you use your car 300 days/year, the total savings would amount to 28 cents/day X 300 days = $84 per year.  If you wanted to earn a 10% return on your investment, you should be willing to pay an extra $840 for the car, above the price of a regular hybrid.  But of course you are saving after tax dollars, so perhaps you would be willing to take a smaller return.  And if you factored in emissions reductions, no war required, and less time consuming trips to the gas station, then you may well be willing to pay even more.  Add plugs at work, and the savings could be even larger.
Plug in hybrids.  Stay tuned.

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