Toyota rolls out five year eco car plan

Posted by Susan DeFreitas, EARTHTECHLING

The first generation of electric cars have yet to truly hit the marketplace, but Toyota is already at work on next-gen electric car batteries - along with other "eco-car" development strategies.

This includes a phased roll-outs of hybrids, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle over the next five years.

Details of this plan were recently released, and include 11 Toyota hybrid models by the end of 2012 (consisting of both all-new models and redesigned models) and a "Prius"-based plug-in hybrid, set to roll out mainly in Japan, the United States and Europe.

We can expect to see an iQ-based electric vehicle in 2012 (as can both Japan and Europe), and in 2015, an eco-dream dear to the hearts of many: the hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle.

The Toyota sedan-type fuel cell hydrogen vehicle (FCHV) will launch in Japan, the U.S. and Europe - markets in which hydrogen supply infrastructure is expected to develop. (No word yet on price, but it’s not expected to be cheap.)

Additionally, the folks at Toyota laboratories are looking beyond today’s clunky lithium-ion batteries and investigating the development of next-generation secondary batteries with greatly enhanced performance, which the company sees as key to bringing about the mass adoption of electric vehicles.

Such technologies include solid-state batteries (which could be used as super-compact primary batteries) and metal-air batteries (which could be used as rechargeable secondary batteries).

* Susan DeFreitas, EarthTechling