Can lithium make a stand, without tax credits?
Can lithium push hybrids beyond 3 percent?
Lithium, lithium, lithium. Is it all just hype?
When Toyota decided not to use lithium in the 3rd gen Hybrid Synergy Drive and the 3rd generation Toyota Prius, it was hard not to be disappointed. It’s obvious that NiMH isn’t the future of the battery vehicle, whether plugged-in or not, but it seems almost equally as obvious that today’s lithium batteries aren’t any more up to the task.
Certainly, when it comes to plug-in vehicles, I’m confident that lithium offers more potential than NiMH. But how much more? Enough to top the 3 percent share of hybrid cars?
I don’t think so, and that’s even after the $7500 federal tax credit. I mean, seriously, plug-ins are DOA without massive tax credits. That doesn’t mean plug-in tax credits are a bad thing, but it is what it is.
Regardless, according to the forecasts through the next decade plus, if a battery vehicle is going to have a major impact on the automotive landscape, it’s going to be a plug-less hybrid. So, is lithium the key to this minor revolution?
I think so.
And in the next few years, most conventional, plug-less hybrid cars will use lithium — many before the hybrid king Prius switches to lithium. But can these new lithium hybrids offer any advantages?
Hyundai’s lithium hybrids, for instance, don’t seem to make that claim — a claim that corporate Hyundai is well aware of based upon the public statements that Hyundai executives have made at numerous auto shows.
But, not every automaker is working on the same kind of lithium technologies as Hyundai. Perhaps another automaker has a better angle on the lithium space?
Within the next year, there will be several new lithium-powered hybrid cars. It will be very interesting to see if any of these new hybrids can make a real sale’s push. I hope it happens, but I’m betting that lithium isn’t just yet there. And while many might criticize Toyota and its old technology Prius, the Prius is still going to dominate battery-vehicle sales for many, many years.
Unfortunately, in my opinion and based on sales, etc., lithium is still coming up short, whether its hybrid cars, plug-in hybrids, or pure battery electrics. But, when lithium does finally start making a stand, I bet it starts with conventional hybrids, and I’m very much looking forward to the first lithium-powered vehicle to top 50,000 yearly sales, especially without tax credits.
Today, if an automaker is going to achieve such a lithium-powered sales number, I’m betting on Ford, but I wouldn’t make too strong of a bet just yet. Lithium just might not be ready for prime time until Toyota puts it there.