Toyota latest to admit reality: EV batteries not ready for prime time


Quick take: Utilities: Your grids are safe from a proliferation of all-electric vehicles, at least for the next while. As you will read below, Toyota is the latest automaker to step back from an all-electric vehicle, admitting that current batteries are too expensive and have a limited range.


But even if all-electric vehicles are impractical at the present time, we continue to think that plug-in hybrids have a future, especially in countries with severe pollution problems (can you tell I just got back from Beijing?) or fossil fuel challenges (hello, Israel). But it may take continued government subsidies to get plug-ins over their Catch-22. To get battery prices down, we have to manufacture in volume. But we can't manufacture in volume until prices come down. - Jesse Berst


Earlier this month we told you about GM's decision to suspend production of its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, raising more questions about EV prospects. Now Reuters reports that Toyota admits it has misread the market and is scrapping plans for a widespread rollout of its new all-electric battery-powered minicar, the eQ.


Reuters says Toyota plans to sell only 100 eQs in a very limited release in the U.S. and Japan. That leaves the giant automaker with a lone all-electric car in its line-up, the RAV4 sports utility developed with Tesla.


"The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge," said, Takeshi Uchiyamada, who oversees Toyota's vehicle development and the man who spearheaded development of the company's Prius hybrid in the 1990s.


More on the EV conundrum...

Volt suspension raises more questions about EV prospects

Charge your EV in 10 minutes? Don't hold your breath

Forget peak oil! Worry about peak lithium!


Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.