Over the past three years, Toyota secretly tested lithium ion batteries as a potential replacement for the nickel metal hydride batteries now used in the Prius, according to a Bloomberg report
In its tests, Toyota concluded that lithium ion batteries were safe and reliable, but the higher cost doesn't justify a complete shift over for Toyota's hybrids, executives said. As a result, the company will remain with nickel-based batteries for most of its hybrid cars, according to the report.
Toyota, too, this week unveiled a plug-in Toyota Prius based on the 2010 model that uses a lithium ion battery. It expects to start leasing them to fleet operators early next year. But when it comes to the "mass market," the company still considers costs and range of battery-electric vehicles a barrier until 2020.
"Electric vehicles of today are less costly than in 1990s, but if you compare them with the other vehicles out there they are still too expensive," Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada said at a news conference at the Frankfurt show. "Unless there is a very big breakthrough in battery costs I don't think electric vehicles can take a large market share."