Tag Archive | "lithium-ion"

Electric Evolution


The general feeling seems to be that motorists want a revolution, but not yet. As you’ve heard often enough before, the principal gripe is the issue of range. Electric cars simply can’t go far enough and even if they did there’s not, as yet, anywhere to charge them away from home. Yet things have to change. Even the most hardened petrol head is beginning to understand that there is an unstoppable driving force behind the evolution of electric vehicles.

In a recent American report it is reckoned that the cost of lithium-ion batteries will fall by about a third in the next four to five years as battery production technology improves, lithium supplies increase and battery packs are sold in greater volume. The report states that “ the market for Li-ion batteries will be driven primarily by plug-in hybrids. Battery electric vehicles require much larger packs than hybrids.”

It is the cost of the fuel cells that governs the industry’s current anomaly. Lithium-ion batteries present a classic ‘what comes first’ scenario. Battery costs need to decrease in order to yield a lower price on the forecourt to encourage the punters. Conversely, the power packs need to be produced in high volumes in order to get costs to fall.

Regardless, the demand for electric drive cars, especially amongst city dwellers, is expected to rise over the coming years; especially as the cost of conventional fuels continues to rise and car makers offer a greater range. The report estimates that the global sales of  plug-ins will rise to a figure in excess of 5 million by 2017.

Lithium is a mineral, the 31st most abundant element on Earth and is the lightest metal. Most of it is found in South America which has more than half of the world’s deposits. It can also be obtained from sea water in same quantities. Herein lies the problem. No car can be considered green. Powering a vehicle on a daily basis is always going to use some sort of resource. We stop extracting oil and start extracting lithium instead. When we’ve got all the lithium, then what? The answer is perhaps not to rush at any one power source but take time to investigate everything that is available to us. Right now the best thing to do is compromise. That is what ‘greener’ should be about. The Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive and other systems seem the best way forward right now. One million Toyota Prius owners can’t be wrong.

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Coming Soon – Toyota Prius+ Seven Seat Hybrid


There’s no doubt that the Toyota Prius came in for some stick when it was first announced. True petrolheads were aghast at this electric monstrosity when it first went on sale in Japan in 1997 and was finally unleashed on the world in 2001. It heralded, the fuel-sniffers said, the end of motoring as we know it. Well, it hasn’t quite worked out like that and most drivers today accept and, for the most part welcome, the new technology.

Toyota, whilst continuing to satisfy the demands of hairy chested sporting drivers with the brilliant GT86, have continued to expand their hybrid technology with the impending summer launch of the Prius+, a fully hybrid seven-seat MPV. The ground-breaking new model, which combines traditional people carrier practicality with ultra-efficient performance, is also the first mainstream Toyota hybrid to use a lighter and more compact lithium-ion battery pack.

It retains the exceptional efficiency of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive power train. Despite the battery pack, the car is light and has exceptional aero-dynamic qualities. In T4 trim the car breaks the 100g/km barrier thus being eligible, currently, for zero rated road tax and congestion charge exemption. Official consumption figure is 68.9 for the T4 and only slightly less for the T Spirit version which itself only just tips over the 100g/km target.

In a clever move, the company have installed the slim battery pack within the centre consul thus avoiding any intrusion on rear passenger and boot space. Genius. All five rear seats fold, allowing for various load-carrying combinations. The two equipment grades offer all the usual options; auto aircon, panoramic roof, rear view cameras, Bluetooth, leather and the like and there’ll be a choice of seven exterior colours.

The family friendly MPV, based on it’s smaller sibling, was very well received at the Geneva Motor Show. The headline feature inside the Prius is Toyota’s new Touch & Go Plus and Touch Pro navigation systems. Featuring real-time traffic updates and the ability to use Google’s Local Search feature, it will be interesting to see how they manage to bring what has been a successful Smartphone technology to work in a car.

For the greener among you, there are new planet-saving features including a monthly fuel consumption record storing the previous five months of economy data. The ability to calculate how much is being saved on fuel costs might help justify why you bought a hybrid in the first place. You can order now and deliveries will start around July 9th from a very creditable £26,195.

Fear not petrolheads; motoring hasn’t died, it’s just grown up.

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