Toyota’s Greener Vehicles by Richard Matthews
The Japanese have been leading providers of greener vehicles for decades. In the seventies Japan was well known for their fuel efficient vehicles, now they are known for hybrids, soon it will be the hydrogen fuel cell.
The interest in hybrid cars is growing exponentially. By March of 2007 there were already 20,526 hybrids sold. Toyota’s Prius is the world’s best selling hybrid car.
Toyota will unveil their updated Prius at the Tokyo Motor Show opening on October 24 and running through November 4. The new completely electric model, the FT-EV II, can be driven for more than 90km on a single charge. This third generation electric vehicle is designed for the city but with a top speed in excess of 100 km/h, it is also capable of highway driving. When not running solely on battery power, The hybrid mode offers significantly enhanced fuel economy. One liter of gas is enough for 55km, up from 38km for previous Prius models.
Each auto maker is forced to commit to a given strategic objective. Thus far Toyota has made some excellent strategic decisions. According to Takehi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s executive vice-president in charge of research and development, each automaker is investing resources betting on a given technology.
While most automakers are focusing on lithium ion battery technology, Toyota remains committed to hydrogen fuel cell technology. Early in August, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) announced the results of its fuel cell hybrid vehicle range and fuel economy field evaluation. The test reveals that for a typical commute. the Highlander prototype (FCHV-adv), has a 431 mile estimated range on a single tank of compressed hydrogen gas and an average fuel economy of 68.3 miles/kg (approximate mpg equivalent).
Jared Farnsworth, Toyota Technical Center advanced powertrain engineer said, “This evaluation of the FCHV-adv demonstrates not only the rapid advances in fuel cell technology, but also the viability of this technology for the future.”
The 2009 Toyota Highland Hybrid achieves an EPA-estimated rating of 26 mpg combined fuel economy and has a full-tank range of approximately 450 miles. With premium grade gasoline currently priced at about $3.25, the gasoline-powered V6 Highlander hybrid is estimated to travel approximately 26 miles at a cost of about $3.25. Currently, hydrogen gas pricing is not fixed, but DOE targets future pricing at $2 to $3 per kilogram. Therefore, the FCHV-adv is estimated to travel approximately 68 miles at a projected cost of about $2.50 – more than double the range of the Highlander Hybrid, at equal or lesser cost, while producing zero emissions.
Irv Miller, TMS group vice president, environmental and public affairs added, “Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell technology has advanced rapidly over the last two years. In 2015, our plan is to bring to market a reliable and durable fuel cell vehicle with exceptional fuel economy and zero emissions, at an affordable price.”
Lexus has the most fuel-efficient of all luxury vehicles with 35 MPG rated. The Lexus HS Hybrid has a Exhaust Heat-Recovery System that reduces engine warm-up time, thus allowing it to stop earlier, more often, and for longer periods. This accounts for as much as a 7% increase in efficiency at low temperatures.
Pairing ingenuity with efficiency, regenerative braking converts braking energy into electricity to recharge the batteries, while the enhanced Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB) System is lighter, smaller and uses up to 29% less power than their previous regenerative braking system.
The combined 35 MPG rated HS Hybrid is over 50% more fuel efficient than Near Luxury competitors, and the most fuel-efficient Lexus ever. It delivers excellent driving performance while earning a Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEVII) rating.
Richard Matthews is a Marketing Consultant and author of The Green Market, a blog dedicated to green investing and the economy. Richard hails from Quebec Canada. He enjoys hiking, canoeing, and rock-climbing.