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Battery safety concerns delay Toyota hybrid cars

Posted: 13 Aug 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:battery safety concerns? Toyota hybrid cars? rollout delay?

Toyota Motor Corp. has pushed the launching of its next-generation Prius hybrid cars due to potential safety problems, The Wall Street Journal reported August 9.

Citing Toyota executives familiar with the company's plans as sources, the WSJ report said safety concerns with the Li-ion battery technology that will be used in the new hybrid series prompted the Japanese carmaker to postpone the rollout from the original late 2008 timeframe to late 2010 or early 2011.

Li-ion batteries promise 60-70 miles per gallon whereas the Prius is getting only 40-60 miles per gallon from its current nickel-metal-hydride batteries. But the Li-ion batteries Toyota planned to deploy on the new Prius used lithium cobalt oxide, which have shown the tendency to overheat, catch fire or even explode, the report said. It is reportedly this same battery chemistry that Sony Corp. used in its laptop batteries that were later recalled.

According to the report, U.S. carmaker General Motors Corp. is angling to take advantage of Toyota's postponement of the Prius rollout to introduce its own series of plug-in hybrid cars that uses a different kind of Li-ion technology.

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