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Discussion Starter #1
Toyota has already the "Best HSD" or the Best HV technology in place so why doesn't the world auto-makers join Toyota to develop the HSD further
instead of _Wasting_Engineering resource & capital !
Reminds me of defunct: "Super car Project" America vs the World !

Power Struggle
As Hybrid Cars Gain Traction,
Industry Battles Over Designs
Toyota Tried to Set Standard,
But GM Forms Rival Camp;
Echoes of VHS vs. Betamax
The Prius's Road to Success
By NORIHIKO SHIROUZU and JATHON SAPSFORD
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
October 19, 2005; Page A1

A battle for power and influence is under way in the auto industry, as the basic technology under the hoods of mass-market cars goes up for grabs for the first time in nearly a century.

Amid soaring gasoline prices, car makers are rushing to use hybrid engines, which boost fuel efficiency by combining a traditional gasoline motor with an electric one. The result is a race among the world's automotive giants that -- like the VHS vs. Betamax brawl in the early days of videocassettes -- could redraw the industry's hierarchy and system of alliances for years to come.

Right now, Toyota Motor Corp. is far out in front. Rising prices at the pumps this year helped turn its hybrid Prius sedan from being an environmentalist's darling into a mainstream sensation. Toyota says it wants to sell a million hybrids a year by as early as 2010, or more than 10% of its overall sales. Auto-industry analyst J.D. Power & Associates forecasts that 750,000 hybrids will be sold by 2012, or 4.1% of all sales that year, but car-industry executives say they may sell far more than that as long as the technology continues to improve.
Toyota had hoped to establish its hybrid design as an industry standard by signing up other car makers to use it.

But other auto makers with big plans for hybrids aren't biting. General Motors Corp. has lured German auto makers DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW AG into a powerful alliance to develop a hybrid system that is simpler than Toyota's. Though the GM system doesn't generate as much of an improvement in fuel economy, it is less costly to produce and easier to configure for larger cars and sport-utility vehicles. Separately, Europe's largest auto maker, Volkswagen AG announced a hybrid partnership with German luxury-car maker Porsche AG. Other companies, including Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. so far are going it alone.

There are powerful incentives for industry players to lure partners into their camps. Spreading out the costs of research and development over more engines can bolster profits. Suppliers' prices go down as they take orders from more car makers. And controlling the design can give an auto maker a potential edge in performance and costs.

More than a decade ago, Toyota kicked off the hybrid race with a move that was largely seen as irrelevant within the industry: It dusted off an old auto-industry idea about building a car powered by both a conventional gasoline-fueled motor and a battery-powered electric drive system. It called the new sedan Prius, a Latin word for first.


The first generation Prius, launched in Japan in 1997, was a curiosity. The next Prius, launched in 2003, quickly became a favorite among environmentally conscious celebrities in the U.S. But when gasoline prices began climbing earlier this year, the Prius became a hot item. Toyota says that demand for the Prius, which gets a combined city-highway rating from the Environmental Protection Agency of 55 miles per gallon, remains so strong that customers are forced to wait between three and four months on average to take delivery.

Even executives who pooh-poohed hybrid technology now say Toyota deserves credit for pursuing it. "If you have hybrids you're OK, and if you don't you're not," GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said earlier this year at an industry gathering. "I'd say Toyota scored a major coup with hybrids even though they didn't have a business case."

Like many new technologies, hybrid power plants are now more expensive to produce than traditional internal combustion engines. GM says it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a new hybrid engine. Hybrid cars have expensive parts regular cars don't have, including big, heavy batteries, electric motors and sophisticated electronic control modules. The expensive gadgetry allows the cars to seamlessly shift between electric power -- typically used at lower speeds when gas engines are least efficient -- to gasoline power and back. The gasoline engine and special mechanisms in the brakes recharge the batteries.
These components are still being produced in relatively small volumes -- Toyota sells more than three times as many gasoline-fueled Camry sedans in the U.S. as it does hybrid Priuses.

To help spread out the Prius development costs, Toyota hoped to enlist other auto makers as partners. Toyota would still control the design and engineering behind the hybrid system, driving down costs and improving performance in new models even as rivals were selling the hybrids with slightly older technology.

As GM considered signing up, executives were struck by the parallels between the transition to hybrids and the "format wars" in the high-tech and consumer-electronics industries. GM commissioned a study of the tactical moves of Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. in the 1970s-era Betamax-VHS war.

Larry Burns, GM vice president of research and development, says the biggest lesson from that war was that sitting on the sidelines and relinquishing control would be risky. Now, GM's game plan is the same as Toyota's: Share its own hybrid design with other auto makers, and drive down the cost of hybrid technology, which adds $3,000 or more to the price of a vehicle.

Hybrids remain a priority for GM even amid deep losses in its North America operations, a junk credit rating and mounting investor concern about the burden of U.S. health-care and pension costs. On Monday, the world's largest car maker announced a major deal with the United Auto Workers union to cut retiree health-care costs, and said it would sell a portion of its lucrative financing arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp.
Sharing the Burden
As the Prius took off, GM accelerated the development of its own hybrid design, originally aimed at large city buses. It also began looking for partners to share the burden. Last month, GM said DaimlerChrysler and BMW agreed to form an alliance committed to developing GM's design. GM's Mr. Lutz said in a speech last week that GM is close to landing another major partner, whom he wouldn't name.

Toyota also tried to woo Ford to its hybrid technology as part of a comprehensive alliance involving their overseas operations. The talks began in 2000 under Jacques Nasser, then-CEO of Ford, according to Eiji Iwakuni, a retired auto executive who was then president of Ford's Japanese sales unit and a member of its negotiation team with Toyota.
He says the deal fell apart when Mr. Nasser was fired and William Clay Ford Jr., scion of the founding family, took over. Mr. Nasser declined to comment. A subsequent effort by Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda to revive the alliance talks produced few results.

In the end, Ford licensed 21 hybrid patents from Toyota, because Ford executives said its design was so similar to Toyota's that it feared being sued. Mary Ann Wright, chief of Ford's hybrid program, says the No. 2 American auto maker doesn't plan to join any alliance because the company wants to control its own destiny. Despite the licensing agreements with Toyota, Ford continues to develop more technologies in-house, she says.

As Toyota has encountered resistance to its hybrid strategy, it has taken some tough steps to make it harder for rivals to attack it.
Last month, Toyota disclosed plans to produce 400,000 motors and electronically controlled transmissions a year at a Toyota-owned plant in Japan. Toyota executives say they want to secure sufficient supply of key hybrid components to help meet its goal of selling one million hybrids a year in several years.

But rivals fear Toyota aims to hijack the global supply base for key hybrid components, slowing the transfer of hybrid technology to suppliers, especially those in North America and Europe.
A few weeks later, Toyota said it was expanding its ownership in a key hybrid component maker, Panasonic EV Energy Co., to 60% from 40%. Rivals see this as a way to tighten control of nickel-metal-hydride batteries Panasonic EV makes for the Prius and other hybrids. The move effectively makes Toyota's joint venture with Matsushita into a Toyota subsidiary and gives Toyota power over whom Panasonic EV does business with.

Ford's Ms. Wright says Toyota is trying to squeeze the supply of components used in Ford's hybrid Escape SUV. The Ford executive says Toyota separately awarded Aisin AW, a member of its supplier group, a "significant" amount of business to produce hybrid transaxles. The move limited Aisin's ability to supply key components to allow Ford to boost production of the Escape hybrid and other planned models.
"It's constraining us," Ms. Wright says.

A Toyota spokesman declined to comment, referring questions to Aisin AW. An official at Aisin AW declined to comment.
Like the Beta vs. VHS battle, this fight is now shaping up to be about a thorny strategic question: Is it better to be first with a more complex, costly system like Sony's Betamax, or second with a system that is cheaper and simpler like Matsushita's victorious VHS?

The Toyota design uses electric propulsion over a wider range of speeds. That means motors, batteries and other electric and electronic components are more powerful, heavier and more expensive. The biggest benefit of the design is the eye-popping fuel economy.

But the design poses a problem when applied to bigger cars. In a large SUV like the Toyota Sequoia, hybrid motors and batteries could be so big the system doesn't fit in the vehicle. Toyota engineers are trying to get around the problem by using higher voltage, but that approach also has drawbacks, the biggest of which is higher cost.
Contrasting Design
GM's hybrid design, by contrast, is designed to rely on the gasoline engine over a wider range of speeds. Engineers can thus use smaller electric motors and batteries. The drawback: Fuel-economy gains are less dramatic.

The full-size SUV hybrid GM plans to launch in late 2007 is expected to achieve 25 miles per gallon in highway-city driving, a 25% improvement in fuel economy over the gasoline-powered version. By comparison, the redesigned hybrid Honda Civic is supposed to achieve around 50 mpg, about a 45% improvement over a comparable gasoline-powered Civic model.

Honda, the only auto maker other than Toyota and Ford that already sells hybrids, also plans to keep pursuing its own hybrid technology, which it argues is less complex and bulky than the Toyota technology.
As the auto giants wrestle, smaller companies that supply hybrid components are rooting for someone to set standards that will make it easier to make the same basic product for all the players.

Robert Stempel, the former head of GM, now runs one of these: Energy Conversion Devices Inc., a small alternative-energy start-up in Rochester Hills, Mich., with a stake in a battery company, Cobasys LLC.
Mr. Stempel, an engineer by training, says Cobasys already has to deal with 10 battery formats with varying voltage and computer control requirements. The number, he says, could increase as auto makers gear up to offer more types of hybrids.

"Any time we can make the same thing exactly the same, we can really start sharpening our pencils and we can really get cost out," Mr. Stempel says.
Write to Norihiko Shirouzu at [email protected]6 and Jathon Sapsford at [email protected]7
 

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Good article, thanks for sharing it. Interesting behind-the-scenes chess match going on...Toyota is up on material and has better center control at this point.
 

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The Beta/VHS analogy is a stretch. In that case, consumers were hurt by the existance of two standards because they couldn't share tapes with people who bought the other standard. Also retail movie stores had to stock twice as many items. With hybrid cars, once you buy it, you can run on the same gasoline as all your neighbors no matter what kind of car they have (well, there's that whole octane thing). And retail car dealers only stock their own brands anyway. Finally, it sounds like GM and Ford should be cultivating their own parts suppliers anyway, whether they make GM, Ford, or Toyota designs, since the Toyota parts suppliers can sell all the parts they make to Toyota and still not make enough for Toyota to satisfy demand for its hybrids.

With hybrids, the existance of competing designs gives consumers a choice with very little drawback. Consumers like choice.

GM heading off on its own is a risky move for GM however. If they can come up with a competetive design quickly and ramp up production effectively, they'll look smart. If in a couple years they still have nothing, they'll look very foolish.
 

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RSnyder said:
GM heading off on its own is a risky move for GM however. If they can come up with a competetive design quickly and ramp up production effectively, they'll look smart. If in a couple years they still have nothing, they'll look very foolish.
They're already touting thier "Displacement on Demand" in commercials pretty heavily (cylinder shut off during cruise ?and idle?) as an option that retains their historical power and still improves fuel economy...ok, so they stole that from Honda, it's a stalling tactic that'll let them get the wheels turning on another intermediate step as they try to catch up.
 

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Thanks Rob, I also thought the betamax vs VHS was a stretch for the same reason.

Also, the article flawed the Prius timeline, and forgot the Prius Classic, which was released in 2000 in Japan, and 2001 here.

There may be many ways to save fuel. However, it seems automakers, and the consumers that drive them, are focusing on more power, though granted, it's getting more power with the same amount of fuel, rather than same power, less fuel. Imagine combining variable displacement, including, but not limited to shutting off a cylinder, with efficient low end electrical torque in a hybrid vehicle. Some do this by assisting the engine with the motor, some do it by seamlessly transferring the load from one to the other.
 

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efusco said:
RSnyder said:
GM heading off on its own is a risky move for GM however. If they can come up with a competetive design quickly and ramp up production effectively, they'll look smart. If in a couple years they still have nothing, they'll look very foolish.
They're already touting thier "Displacement on Demand" in commercials pretty heavily (cylinder shut off during cruise ?and idle?) as an option that retains their historical power and still improves fuel economy...ok, so they stole that from Honda, it's a stalling tactic that'll let them get the wheels turning on another intermediate step as they try to catch up.

Uhhh, I do recall a similar 'd-o-d' on 1975-1979 Cadillacs, so GM did not, necessarily, 'steal' the idea from Honda. In fact, several WWII diesel engines used this idea as well; Fairbanks-Morse and GM V-16 in use recently in submarines, etc.

It seems, really, that nothing is all that new, is it? :wink:
 

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And, none of this hybridizing addresses the need to develop non-fossil-based fuels.

In fact, the success of the hybrids and new technology diesels merely prolong the reliance on petroleum and distract from that development.

It may come to pass that we will have a substitute fuel much like synthetic oil for lubrication, but it will not return the MPG numbers, horsepower, or be as inexpensive as what we use today. Would any of you buy a car that got 16MPG on $5.00/gallon fuel? What if that was the only fuel left?
 

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One can make artificial kerosene with nothing more than air (CO2 and water vapor) as starting materials, plus one's favorite primary energy source to power the process, but you're right, it would not be cheap.

Maybe some kind-hearted soul can whap GM in the head with a board and tell them that the outline of their hybrid system for automobiles, as previously announced, sucks. (*Two* clutches? Sheesh.) And, it is becoming clear from real-world experience at transit agencies that their particular parallel drive system for busses also sucks; the series system from BAE is performing much better (better economy, lower emissions, greater reliability).
 

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Well, some hybrids, such as the Prius, can run, or be easily modified to run, on pure electric power if a more efficient and practical electric plant or storage becomes available, and the engine can be modified to burn other fuels. Someone already modified the Prius to run on Hydrogen, stored in solid pellets.
 

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efusco said:
They're already touting thier "Displacement on Demand" in commercials pretty heavily (cylinder shut off during cruise ?and idle?) as an option that retains their historical power and still improves fuel economy...ok, so they stole that from Honda, it's a stalling tactic that'll let them get the wheels turning on another intermediate step as they try to catch up.
Woah. GM had DoD about 20 years ago, but at the time the technology didn't really support a good implementation. To say they stole it from Honda is a bit of a stretch.
 

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Beta/VHS makes no sense. Can I interhchange parts between conventional GM and Ford vehicles? Of course not! They use the same technology, but none of the parts are intechangable.

I find it interesting that Ford has it's own technology, yet when Toyota buys a controlling stake in one company for one component, suddenly the tune changes and Toyota is limiting supplies of Ford parts? If they have their own tech, why does it matter what Toyota does?
 

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efusco said:
RSnyder said:
GM heading off on its own is a risky move for GM however. If they can come up with a competetive design quickly and ramp up production effectively, they'll look smart. If in a couple years they still have nothing, they'll look very foolish.
They're already touting thier "Displacement on Demand" in commercials pretty heavily (cylinder shut off during cruise ?and idle?) as an option that retains their historical power and still improves fuel economy...ok, so they stole that from Honda, it's a stalling tactic that'll let them get the wheels turning on another intermediate step as they try to catch up.
Actually displacement on demand is something GM was trying to do in the early to mid 80s. And it fell flat on its face. The computer control systems in the 80s on most cars were pretty primitive. In fact they were beyond primitive compared to conventional vehicles today. A number of Cadilacs and other high end GM vehicles from that period included that "feature" and most users found it so unreliable and cludgy that they had the functionality "deactivated" so the car would actually run correctly.

As such the idea is the same, and the overall execuition that GM is using is the same, but computer sensing and control system are so much faster and make better decisions because they collect more data, analyize more data are packed with a lot more logic and algorythims to make decisions about cylinder usage.

So, the idea wasn't stolen from Honda at all. I hate giving GM credit, but credit where credit is due.
 

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KTPhil said:
I find it interesting that Ford has its own technology, yet when Toyota buys a controlling stake in one company for one component, suddenly the tune changes and Toyota is limiting supplies of Ford parts? If they have their own tech, why does it matter what Toyota does?
Having unique and separate designs for technology are totally isolated from turning ideas into the actual device.

The PSD that Ford uses in the hybrid Escape is currently made by Aisin, the same manufacturer that makes PSDs for Toyota. The PSD is the lynchpin of the Toyota/Ford hybrid design. On top of that there are no other manufacturers in the world that have the ability, right now, to make quality PSDs. Sure Ford probably is going to other suppliers to open up new manufacturing channels, but it takes time for a parts manufacturer to get up to speed on what is in essence a foreign technology and manufacturing process for them. PSDs are very precise components, built to very precise specifications in a unique manner. Aisin is able to provide the precision right now, but it will take time for other manufacturers to learn and ramp up. As such you can argue that Toyota is tightening supply by dominating the manufacturing capacity of the only PSD maker in the world.

I don't necessarily sympathize with Ford because business is business, however their observation about the market is spot on.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
DanMan32 said:
Thanks Rob, I also thought the betamax vs VHS was a stretch for the same reason.

Also, the article flawed the Prius timeline, and forgot the Prius Classic, which was released in 2000 in Japan, and 2001 here.

There may be many ways to save fuel. However, it seems automakers, and the consumers that drive them, are focusing on more power, though granted, it's getting more power with the same amount of fuel, rather than same power, less fuel. Imagine combining variable displacement, including, but not limited to shutting off a cylinder, with efficient low end electrical torque in a hybrid vehicle. Some do this by assisting the engine with the motor, some do it by seamlessly transferring the load from one to the other.
Hi DanMan32: No, the Classic was introduced to Japanese market back in 97 it first came to America in 2000 as 2001 model.
 
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