Toyota Hybrids, Tesla Electrics & The Nissan Leaf
Toyota has proved in over 4 million real world road going hybrid vehicles that $3000 worth of carefully computer controlled 6.5Ah 1.2v nickel metal hydride batteries can enhance the energy efficiency of the automobile in terms of minimizing tail pipe pollution and fuel consumption.
NiMH batteries were developed throughout the 1980's, 1990's and continued research and development of the NiMH chemistry gave way to the practical cost efficient high performance electrical energy storage technology configurations employed by Toyota in their Hybrid Synergy Drive vehicles.
I have been operating a 2005 Toyota Prius Hybrid for over 7 years and have logged in almost 100,000 miles of operation. Throughout its operational life so far, Astro the Prius has yielded a net lifetime running average fuel economy of around 46MPG. That is real world mix use in cities and mountains and highways, not some Hair brained EPA window sticker calculation with misleading and in many cases outright dishonest fuel economy ratings.
When will an automaker build vehicles that actually achieve their fuel economy claims? Who knows, thus far the auto industry seems to be just fine over rating their vehicle fuel economy numbers the same way that Samsung over rates the energy storage capacity ratings of their failure prone lithium polymer cell phone batteries. Toyota built the first really good Hybrid, The Prius.
The Prius from Toyota appeals to a broad audience because the size is slated somewhere between a corolla and a camry. The smaller middle sized Prius (normal kind) has huge volumes of practical internal storage utility because of the hatchback design. I have been using Astro the Prius as a 2 passenger covered truck for a long time now.
The Prius is kind of like having a smaller fuel efficient truck. I can throw my huge large man sized mountain bike in the back. Meg and I can sleep in the back on an inflatable twin sized air mattress when camping and have done so many times.
The Prius is a fantastic and highly reliable vehicle. So far I have only done oil changes, tires and a few recall repairs. Time is the test of anything, and the Prius seems to hold up really well just like other Toyota vehicles have historically, when they are properly maintained by professionals and not driven or operated by morons.
Toyota has proved millions of times that 150lbs of NiMH batteries can nearly double the real world operating fuel economy of a practical four door sedan with loads of rear storage utility.
Some people seem to like to bash Prius, seeing the Hybrid driver community as a form of counter culture to the mainstream hummer reality that these people like to live in. Yes some of us like to ride bikes, scooters, electrified vehicles and hybrid vehicles instead of boring regurgitated purely internal combustion nonsense from the steampunk era of yesteryear.
Tesla took the whole auto industry to a new level, to a new chapter in this History of Automobiles with their high performance electric vehicles.
Toyota became slow and complacent with innovations beyond NiMH hybrids. It was Tesla motors that introduced the world to high performance lithium electric vehicles. With the Model S, Tesla Motors has raised all the metric bars in the auto industry. Blazing past Honda and Toyota, industrial Japanese automotive and machine behemoths, a small America silicon valley company rose up and embraced the future, with all aluminum, made in America, all electric performance luxury vehicles that beat the pants of everything from every other automaker.
The model S from Tesla motors is not only a beautiful luxury performance sedan, it is the coolest car ever made. The model S is what I had been dreaming about at night when I decided to purchase a Prius. In the end I will buy a used Nissal Leaf as my next 4 wheel vehicle. The Aforementioned Model S from Tesla is just not in my budget range.
Toyota will continue to build quality hybrids, but it is Tesla Motors that leads the entire automotive sector now. Tesla is building the cool cars of the future, now !
Nissan thinks Tesla is correct and also builds awesome lithium electric vehicles. The LEAF from Nissan is the spiritual technological successor to the Toyota Prius. As the Nissan LEAF's continue to depreciate, eventually a good one will become available in my price range. I someday hope to entirely replace the gas burning hybrid Prius with a fully electric vehicle.
There is good news about electric vehicles of the future. Battery prices are predicted to steadily decline over the next decade. Tesla Motor's outspoken CEO Elon Musk predicts that lithium batteries of today that cost $750 per kWh will decline in price such that a similar battery in 2022 will only cost $100 per kWh. This radical %700 reduction in cost will give rise to practical budget priced electric vehicles that have 200 miles of real world range.
Even Tesla is planning to build an affordable electric car. The code named "blue star" project under development at Tesla will yield a luxurious compact sedan in the Chevy Volt price range. Only time will tell what this "Blue Star" will be, but early insight into the Tesla's vehicle roadmap show that the Blue Star will benefit from all the technologies and cost saving measures that allowed the Model S to succeed the Roadster at half the price for twice the car.
Tesla Motors stock performance has soared lately as news of their early repayment of DOE loans spread across the internet at blazing electronic speeds. The long term fiscal performance of Tesla is unknown, for no one has a crystal ball to read into the future. We can know for sure several things. No one can un-invent the Model S. By raising the bar for other Automakers, Telsa's model S will advance the vehicle offerings of every other automakers.
The other major automakers have had to eat their words. Many executives from Tesla's competition at BMW, Mercedes, Ford and GM were dismissive and in some cases comedic when commenting about Tesla motors in the past. Their jokes and puns have now come to an end as these arrogant fools have been forced to sober up to realities brought into the lime light by the Model S from Tesla.
In the same way that Toyota proved that Hybrid vehicles are better, Tesla has proved that electric vehicles can be sexy, fast, alluring, and interesting. It is Tesla that struck the emotional core of automotive enthusiasts with the model S. It was the cool class leading technology that Telsa pioneered that turned around narrow minded misconceptions that people previously held about the supposed limitations of electric vehicles.
Sadly the 72mi Nissan Leaf gave the pundits a lot of verbal ammunition about so called "range anxiety". With nearly 300 miles of real world range, the Model S dispels any false notions about range anxiety. Further bolstering the real world usability of the Model S is the solar super charger network that Telsa is building. Now and in the near future, Tesla Model S operators will be able to go on electric road trips across America.
On the other hand Nissan's Leaf vehicles will give commuters an electric option that is cost accessible to a broad consumer market. Where the Model S's price point alienates regular people, the Leaf is superior. The truth is most people do not need 300 miles of electric range, that is nearly 5 hours of driving at 60 miles per hour. Most people spend less than 2 hours in traffic, an overwhelming majority of drivers in the US covering less than 30 miles per day; well within the range of a Nissan Leaf even if the Leaf has an older weakened battery.
Posted by Aaron Kenneth Schwarz