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Toyota Pushes Hybrid Models, Scales Back Plans for EV

Toyota will roll out 21 hybrid vehicles by the end of 2015, while scaling back plans for widespread sales of its new all-electric compact in a decision that signals the company’s growing confidence in its hybrid strategy and its tepid view of battery-powered vehicles.

Toyota predicted its sales of hybrid models will likely surpass 1 million this year – nearly double what it sold in 2011 – and expects to maintain this level of sales through 2015. Despite its confidence in the hybrid vehicles, Toyota acknowledged the need to cut costs to increase profitability and spur sales, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Toyota will release its all-electric eQ on a limited basis in December to local governments and selected users in Japan and the US, a decision that marks the company’s conservative outlook of the market for battery-powered cars. Toyota said a lack of demand for the technology prompted the automaker to drop its plan for widespread sales.

Early demand for EVs has fallen short of projections, according to a Lux Research report that recommended EV manufacturers focus on strategies other than scaling up production to lower Li-ion battery costs and boost flagging sales.

In 2010, Toyota had announced plans to sell several thousand of the all-electric eQ vehicles per year when it originally unveiled the compact EV.

The eQ compact, which is based on the iQ Scion, features a new high-output lithium-ion battery that uses a minimum amount of space, and boasts an improved electric power consumption rate of 104 Wh/km.

Toyota also announced its sedan-type fuel cell vehicle is scheduled for launch around 2015. The vehicle has a power output density of 3 kW/L, more than twice the density of the fuel cell stack currently used in the fuel cell hybrid prototype, but is about half the size and weight. Toyota also developed a high-efficiency boost converter, which increased the voltage, making it possible to reduce the size of the motor and the number of fuel cells.

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