Toyota defends its defense of parallel hybrids

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Earlier this month, Toyota Executive Veep Kazuo Okamoto made news when he defended his company’s pursuit of further developing its parallel hybrid system called the Hybrid Synergy Drive. He was specifically calling out GM’s development of the first mass market series hybrid, the Chevy Volt. On Toyota’s own Open Road Blog, Irv Miller, Group Vice President of Corporate Communications, came to the defense of his boss soon after. It was an editorial we missed at the time, but reading it this morning was an eye opener.

Miller makes a case for Toyota’s support of parallel hybrids by saying that at this point the Volt is vaporware, while you can buy a Prius today. He notes that Volt engineers are only able to get about 10 miles of pure electric range from current lithium-ion batteries, far short of the 40 miles promised by GM. He also goes after the set up of a series hybrid, saying, “So – and we love this part – a series hybrid hauls around a gas engine that isn’t available to directly propel the car.”

There are no doubt engineers in this audience who will read Toyota’s response and rip it to shreds, much like commenters have already done on the original post. We’ll merely respond to two points, since we’re not engineers. Toyota calling a series hybrid vaporware because there isn’t one on the market today is bunk. We assume the Hybrid Synergy Drive was at one time in development, too. While there’s certainly a chance the Volt may never happen (10% according to Bob Lutz), the fact that GM is already using the Volt in advertising and has been completely transparent with the car’s development tells us that it will do whatever it takes to bring this car to market.

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