Hybrid vehicles have been famous ever since Toyota released the Prius in the United States. Currently, the demand for hybrid electric vehicles is staggering that one could see in the sales figures posted by Toyota that the Prius is one of their fastest growing models in terms of sales.
Hybrid electric vehicles are equipped with a small engine, most commonly powered by gasoline, and an electric motor. The electric motor helps the engine generate power to drive the vehicle. The presence of an electric motor allows the engine to shut off during low speed driving or while decelerating. When a vehicle is stationary, instead of idling, the engine shuts down and the batteries are recharged.
Currently, hybrid vehicles use nickel metal hydride batteries which are commonly referred to as Ni-MH. These batteries are widely used because of its durability. But a more powerful and lighter rechargeable battery is already being considered by car makers to replace the Ni-MH batteries that are currently used.
One advantage of Li-ion batteries is that they can be formed into any shape which makes them fit the particular device, or an electric motor in the case of hybrid cars, that they need to supply power to. They are also lighter – this means that with the use of Li-ion battery packs, hybrid vehicles will weigh less. This will then translate to less power needed to drive the vehicle. The less power is needed, the less fuel is consumed, therefore, the use of LI-ion batteries will also increase the fuel-efficiency of a car although indirectly.
One of the car makers which have expressed their interest in the development of Lithium-ion batteries to power their hybrid vehicles is Toyota. Recently, Katsuaki Watanabe, the Toyota CEO, announced that the car maker from the Orient will be developing Li-ion batteries which will be used on their third-generation hybrid vehicles.
Toyota announced that vehicles equipped with Li-ion batteries will be appearing on showrooms in the late part of 2008 or the first quarter of 2009. The Li-ion batteries which will be developed by Toyota will be far more powerful than the Ni-MH batteries used today. Watanabe said that they are aiming to cut down in half the size of the batteries and the cost of production of hybrid vehicles.
A reduction in the production cost of hybrid vehicles will make the price of the eco-friendly vehicles much closer to gasoline engine equipped vehicles. Watanabe believes that the sale of hybrid vehicles will reach one million a year by the early part of the next decade. This assumption is believable since environment awareness is now widespread.
Prospective car buyers look at a car’s fuel-efficiency more than anything. This demand for hybrid vehicles and the subsequent increase of hybrid vehicles on the roads will greatly impact the reduction of greenhouse gases. While hybrid technology cannot put a stop to global warming the way an EBC brake rotor and pads does to stop a car, the mentioned technology will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.
Toyota aims to sell more and more hybrid cars in the future. This shows that the company is serious in its effort to combat the ill effects of greenhouse gas emission to the environment. It has been reported in Japan, the home of Toyota, that the company is planning to offer a hybrid version of any model which sells more than 100,000 units every year.