Toyota Prius Loses #1 Spot to Honda’s Fit in Japan

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid was overtaken by Honda Motor Co.’s Fit compact after 20 straight months as the top-selling standard car in Japan.

Sales of the Prius dropped 39 percent to 13,711 vehicles in January from a year earlier, after a government subsidy for fuel-efficient cars expired in September, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said today. Sales of Honda’s Fit rose 14 percent to 14,873 after the Tokyo-based company added a hybrid version on Oct. 8.

Read the rest of the story: Toyota Prius Relinquishes Top-Selling Status to Honda’s Fit in Japan – Bloomberg.

Toyota to ‘voluntarily’ fix 650,000 Prius globally

Japan’s Toyota Motor on Tuesday said it would offer to repair a defective engine coolant pump on around 650,000 of its top-selling Prius models worldwide, in a move that it said was not a recall.

The world’s largest automaker said it would "voluntarily" replace the pump controlling the temperature of the hybrid engine system, which if not working properly may lead to overheating.

However, the company said that the fault would not prevent the car from running and it had received no reports of accidents or injuries as a result of the problem.

Automakers often issue repair notices separately from official recalls filed with regulators if they see no safety risk.

"This is a ‘customer satisfaction campaign,’ which is a voluntary action of the company unlike legally-bound recalls," said Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco.

"Even if overheating occurs, it would not stall the vehicle but would result in lower power," he said, adding there had been no reports of accidents resulting from the issue.

The action covers 2004-2007 models and includes around 390,000 vehicles in North America and 180,000 in Japan. Owners are invited to submit vehicles for repair, the company said.

Read the rest of the story: AFP: Toyota to ‘voluntarily’ fix 650,000 Prius globally.

Toyota debuts 4-layer All-solid-state Battery

Toyota Motor Corp unveiled a prototype of its all-solid-state battery Nov 18, 2010, in Japan. It is a laminated cell measuring about 10 x 10cm.

Four sets of positive electrode layers, solid electrolyte layers and negative electrode layers are laminated, and the average voltage of the cell is 14.4V (3.6V x 4). Because Toyota exhibited the cell right after it was charged, it output a voltage of 16.26V (4.065V per layer).

The positive electrode, negative electrode and solid electrolyte of the prototyped cell are made by using lithium cobalt dioxide (LiCoO2), graphite and sulfide, respectively.

Toyota is actively engaged in the development of all-solid-state batteries and lithium-air batteries as next-generation batteries. Especially, when an all-solid-state battery is in an ideal state, its lithium spreads faster than electrolyte, making it theoretically possible to realize a high output power.

Read the rest of the story: Toyota Announces 4-layer All-solid-state Battery.

Toyota offers noise device for Prius to improve safety

Toyota’s Prius hybrid is becoming a little less quiet with a new electronic humming device that is the automaker’s answer to complaints that pedestrians can’t hear the top-selling car approaching.

The 12,600 yen ($148) speaker system that goes under the hood of the third-generation Prius sets off a whirring sound designed to be about the same noise level as a regular car engine so that it isn’t annoying, Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday.

It goes on sale Aug. 30 in Japan, and owners pay extra for installation charges. Its use is voluntary.

Read the rest of the stroy: Toyota offers noise device for Prius for safety reasons.

Head of Toyota Steps up in Apology

“I deeply regret that I caused concern among so many people,” Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, said at a news conference on Friday. “We will do our utmost to regain the trust of our customers.”

He also pledged that the Japanese automaker would soon announce steps to address brake problems on the 2010 Prius.

Akio Toyoda, grandson of Toyota’s founder, spoke in his first formal remarks since the uproar enveloping his company, the world’s largest automaker, and took personal responsibility for the problems.

The company’s stock has dropped about 20 percent in the last two weeks.

Toyota unveils 600 Prius Plug-in Hybrids for lease to governments and corporations

Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled on Monday the plug-in version of the latest Prius gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle with extended range when it runs on electricity.

Toyota plans to lease out 600 of the plug-in hybrids to governments and corporations in Japan, the United States and Europe and gain feedback.

It says it will start selling the plug-in hybrid at home and abroad in two years.

The five-seater has a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Increased capacity of the lithium-ion batteries gives it a longer electric-motor-only cruising range. Its plug also allows users to charge the batteries using household electricity.

“A plug-in hybrid vehicle eases concerns about electric vehicles because it includes the hybrid system,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada, executive vice president at Toyota.

The Prius Plug-in Hybrid has a cruising range using only electricity of 23.5 km under Japanese standards. Its fuel-efficiency in hybrid mode is 57 km per liter, the carmaker said.

By using a 100-volt socket, it takes three hours to fully charge the battery. With a 200-volt socket, it takes 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Toyota will lease 230 of the vehicles domestically to local governments, ministries and companies, including electric power utilities.