Toyota CEO Katsuaki Watanabe, in a speech ringing in the New Year, unveiled the auto giant’s plans for a greener global automotive fleet: in a word, hybrids, and lots of them. Each Toyota model will have a hybrid powertrain available, according to AutoblogGreen. The moves are clearly part of Toyota’s plan to sell a million hybrid vehicles a year.
It’s also the latest example of the huge business opportunity that has been recognized by the auto industry in hybrid technology, one of several emerging technologies being explored as ways to power the vehicles of tomorrow. At the same time, diesel technology, partially helped by the prospect of increased biodiesel production as well as advances in “clean” diesel, has prompted more automakers to start unveiling new diesel vehicles. Flex fuel vehicles and biofuels are seeing more investment, and even though fuel cell cars are still far away, we recently reported, fuel cell technology yielded a large number of patents between 2002 and 2007.
Toyota is now moving full-steam ahead on their hybrid properties, hoping to hold onto their Prius-powered lead and keep would-be hybrid king Honda at bay. Watanabe also announced the company is working on plug-in hybrids, which can get mileages up to 100 mpg. Additionally, he said Toyota is researching lithium-ion batteries, which it hopes will perform better than the current nickel-based batteries used. Watanabe offered no definite dates on any of these promises.