Climate

Ford expects 10% to 25% of fleet to be electric by 2020, Toyota plans up to 30,000 plug-ins in 2012, GM to “do the heavy lifting” to help Obama meet goal of one million plug-ins by 2015.

Major car companies are starting to vote on their choice for the “car and fuel of the future” with big bets on manufacturing capacity.  The winner, no surprise, is going to be highly efficient plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and pure electric vehicles (see, for instance, “Everything you could want to know about plug-in and EV announcements at Detroit auto show“).

Plug-ins and EVs are a core climate solution, since electric drives are more efficient, easily powered by carbon-free energy, and far cheaper to operate per mile than gasoline or any alternative fuel, especially hydrogen, even when running on renewable power. And they are the key alt-fuel strategy needed to deal with the energy/economic security threat of rising dependence on imported oil and the inevitably grim impacts of peak oil (see “Why electricity is the only alternative fuel that can lead to energy independence“).

No surprise, then, that Toyota is planning on a major rollout of its plug in:

Toyota Motor Corp plans to start mass producing plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2012, with a projected first-year output of about 20,000 to 30,000 units, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday.

We also have some details on the cost and all-electric range of the Toyota plug in:

Toyota wants to price its plug-in hybrids at a comparable price to Mitsubishi Motors Corp’s all-electric car, which debuts this month to fleet customers in Japan at 4.59 million yen ($47,800) before government subsidies, the Nikkei said, without citing sources….

Toyota’s plug-ins will be able to run 20-30 km (12.4-18.6 miles) on battery power alone at full charge, the paper said.

It always bears repeating that after the battery charge is exhausted, the car will revert to being a highly fuel-efficient “conventional” hybrid that runs on gasoline.

Toyota appears to be making a shrewder decision on the all-electric range the GM, which says it is giving the Chevy Volt a too-large 40-mile capacity (see “Has GM overdesigned the Volt: Is a 40-mile all electric range too much?” and “CMU study suggests GM has wildly oversized the batteries in the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid“).

Ford had made clear in its restructuring plan last year last year that the future fuel is electrons (see “Whose bailout plan is best: Ford drops hydrogen while GM remains confused about ethanol“):

The next major step in Ford’s plan is to increase over time the volume of electrified vehicles, as battery costs improve and as the transition from Hybrids to Plug-in Hybrids to Battery Electric Vehicles occurs.

Now Reuters reports:

Ford plans to introduce a battery-powered commercial van in 2010, a battery-powered small car the following year and a plug-in hybrid to challenge General Motors Corp’s highly touted Volt starting in 2012.

Those plans put utilities and battery companies “at the center of the universe” for automakers, [Ford CEO Alan] Mulally said.

Ford, the first of the U.S. automakers to roll out a hybrid, has made a renewed commitment to the technology a centerpiece of its turnaround plans….

Within a decade, automakers and utility companies expect to make commonplace two-way communication between vehicles and an interactive utility power grid that will solidify their cooperation.

Utilities are expected to install millions of “smart meters” at homes that would signal the car’s computer when the power grid is strained, and power expensive, so charging can be suspended.

For now, the goal is simply to convince motorists to plug in, said Nancy Gioia, Ford’s director of hybrid vehicle programs.

Gioia projects that “from 10 to 25 percent” of Ford’s production by 2020 will be some type of electrified vehicle.

General Motors, of course, has long been touting its efforts to electrified vehicles:

GM, now operating under a federally funded bankruptcy, has also pledged to have more plug-in hybrids and even pure electric vehicles for city driving in the future….

Britta Gross, GM’s director of global energy systems and infrastructure commercialization, would not offer a percentage for plug-ins and other types of electric cars, but said GM would “do the heavy lifting” trying to meet the moonshot-like goal set by President Barack Obama to have 1 million plug-in hybrids on U.S. roads by 2015.

Finally, we can move beyond the rhetorical hype about what low-carbon alternative fuel vehicles American consumers might be driving in the foreseeable future to the manufacturing and practical reality of plug-ins and EVs.

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13 Responses to Ford expects 10% to 25% of fleet to be electric by 2020, Toyota plans up to 30,000 plug-ins in 2012, GM to “do the heavy lifting” to help Obama meet goal of one million plug-ins by 2015.

  1. James Thomson the second says:

    Is this the cart driving the horse? And the horse is on a diet of coal, if you get my drift.

    What I would like to see, in this order, is:

    1. Carbon tax and/or a reducing cap on fossil fuel extraction, leading to
    2. Clean energy becoming cheaper than dirty enery, leading to
    3. Electricity becoming the fuel of choice for vehicles.

    Step 1 will lead to some realism about the real (i.e. market based) carbon cost of making the batteries and other hardware needed for EV’s / hybrids. Otherwise we could end with a solution to America’s energy trade deficit, but one which makes emissions worse not better. If the batteries are anything like the ones in my laptop they cost a fortune and will need replacing at regular intervals.

  2. larry tucker says:

    US Calendar Year Sales[63] Prius.
    2000 5,562
    2001 15,556
    2002 20,119
    2003 24,627
    2004 53,991
    2005 107,897
    2006 106,971
    2007 181,221
    2008 158,884

    It looks like the new Honda Insight is in for some hard times, sales-wise. Honda sales figures for June show that Insight sales dropped 25% from 2,780 units in May to 2,079 units in June. Over the same period the Prius’ sales have risen from 10,091 units to 12,998. It’s hard not to point out that the Prius’ increase from May to June was greater than the number of Insights sold in June.

    Toyota reports U.S. sales of its Prius hybrid are down a whopping 45 percent so far in 2009. It’s a far cry from this time last year, when Toyota dealers were tacking on a premium to the sticker price and had waiting lists for the cars.

    Toyota says it has sold just 42,743 Prius models through the first five months of 2009, compared to 79,675 during the same period last year.

    All electric cars will not do as well as hybrids.

  3. “electric drives are more efficient, easily powered by carbon-free energy, and far cheaper to operate per mile than gasoline”

    Plug-in cars are far cheaper to operate largely because 1) electricity prices are controlled and are lower than the market price, and 2) they don’t pay the gas tax that is used to maintain roads and build new transportation projects.

    Needless to say, because they are cheaper to operate, people will drive them more. In general, lowering the fuel price by half increases miles driven by 20%, and that is about what will happen when people buy plug-in cars – causing more congestion and potentially more sprawl.

    Let me say once more that I am not against plug-in cars. I think they are inevitable given rising gas prices, I think they will be beneficial, and I think they could be even more beneficial if we thought in advance about dealing with the problems they cause.

    Obvious ways of dealing with those problems are 1) congestion pricing and 2) a shift from a gas tax to a VMT fee. These could be combined if we had a GPS based VMT fee with variable fees based on congestion. That would make our entire transportation system work more smoothly and could reduce automobile use.

    But we are not thinking in advance. One day, we are going to wake up and say: “Duh, now that 20% of cars are electric, we have 20% less funding to maintain roads and build transit.”

  4. paulm says:

    I think this is an under estimate. Everyone wants to buy an electric car really even if they don’t know it now. The minute the right environment – especially political & supply, is there the sales are going to go through the roof.

  5. larry tucker says:

    Toyota’s plug-ins will be able to run 20-30 km (12.4-18.6 miles) on battery power alone at full charge, the paper said.

    18 miles from the office. That means not a side trip errand on the way home.

    Quick chargers are 6,000 dollars for a Mini E?

    [JR: And what makes you think you won’t be able to charge from the office? But, in any case, you look to have a relatively long commute, and it doesn’t make sense to design a car for a very long commute (and/or with the assumption of only charging at home.]

  6. Bob Wright says:

    Ford is also about to launch the new gasoline Fiesta with promised hybrid-like mileage on the highway. Maybe even 40+ mpg. It could be a good, affordable, “domestic” (Mexico) car to drive until the transition is made to affordable electrics and plug-ins.

    It sounds like Ford and VW are having quite a spirited diesel mileage competition in Europe, parallel to Toyota and Ford hybrids here.

  7. GFW says:

    Um Larry, it’s a hybrid. If it runs out of electric power, you just use a little gas.

  8. dhogaza says:

    Toyota reports U.S. sales of its Prius hybrid are down a whopping 45 percent so far in 2009. It’s a far cry from this time last year, when Toyota dealers were tacking on a premium to the sticker price and had waiting lists for the cars.

    Toyota says it has sold just 42,743 Prius models through the first five months of 2009, compared to 79,675 during the same period last year.

    1. We’re in a recession

    2. Prius 3 – everyone’s waiting

  9. Rick Covert says:

    Joe,

    I’d like to address a question posed to aprevious poster, “What makes you think you won’t be able to charge from the office?” In short the company I was contracted to wouldn’t allow it, PERIOD. They even got rid of their electric utility carts.

  10. BBHY says:

    James Thomson the second, I think you are not taking into account the drain on our economy caused by the need to import foreign oil.

    By continuing to use oil to power our transportation, we will likely spend $7 Trillion on imported oil over the next ten years. That’s money being sucked out of the economy that’s not available for investment in the things we need.

    By using electrics instead, we could have that $7 Trillion dollars to invest in clean energy from wind, solar, geothermal and whatever other renewable sources we want. with money left over to build a smart, efficient distribution grid and improve health care, education and create new industries and jobs.

    Oh, and by the way, we could dramatically reduce our CO2 emissions and save our environment.

  11. Wonhyo says:

    I’d like to make a plug for Aptera, which is scheduled to start mass-producing a 100 mile all-electric highway capable 2-seater by the end of this year with an expected price of $27k. Their plug-in hybrid with 50 mile (projected) all-electric range is expected a year later.

    One thing Aptera gets that Chevrolet and Tesla do not is that battery size drives the cost of an electric/plug-in and reducing battery size requires extreme efficiency. Tesla is too expensive for the masses. The Volt will be priced as a semi-luxury car.

    Toyota may be Aptera’s closest competitor. The plug-in Prius 15 mile all-electric range suggests the battery capacity will be about 4-6 kWh, a much more economical solution that Volt’s 16 kWh battery. And still, the Toyota plug-in is expected to be $48k?! I don’t see how the Volt will match that price, unless its battery is also reduced.

  12. Pangolin says:

    At least in California a charging station has a considerably smaller cost to the property owner than the land value of the parking space. If a retail establishment builds business by having convenient charging stations its worth the cost. Operations with their heads in the sand may suffer.

    The proposed VMT tax is simply a way of leveling the playing field for SUV owners. Any traffic engineer will tell you that it’s vehicle weight that causes road damage. An SUV at double the weight of a Prius causes well over twice the road wear. Since that asphalt has many barrels of oil in it heavier vehicles should be taxed more.

    My personal take on the drop in Prius sales is that I’m seeing a lot more Smart cars on the road. With the various electrics and diesels the Prius is getting some needed competition. Some of that competition is from bicycles too; bicycle sales have defied the economic trends.

  13. larry tucker says:

    I suspect the 18-20 dollars for a 3 hour quick charge is detrimental to sales. The price of electricity is small at a charge. The costs of setting up a large parking lot to contain a few dozen cars for 3 hours is very high.