This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.
Global Sales of the Toyota Prius Hybrid Top 1 Million
Toyota Motor Corporation announced on May 15 that its worldwide cumulative sales of the Toyota Prius have passed the 1 million mark. The Prius hybrid is now sold in more than 40 countries and regions, but the market leaders remain Japan and North America. In fact, North America has provided nearly 60% of all Prius sales, and reached 183,800 vehicles in 2007. That sales pace has accelerated in early 2008, with 66,100 vehicles sold in North America in the first four months, a rate that would result in nearly 200,000 sales if continued through the entire year. In fact, Toyota sold 21,757 Prius hybrids in the United States in April, setting a record for April sales and making the Prius the third most popular vehicle in the Toyota line, trailing the Corolla and the Camry. See the Toyota press releases on the Prius global sales and April U.S. sales.
While Toyota is enjoying the lion's share of benefits from the hybrid vehicle market, Nissan Motor Company, Ltd. aims to profit from the next generation of plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. In April, the company launched a joint venture with NEC Corporation and its subsidiary, NEC TOKIN Corporation, to develop and mass produce advanced lithium-ion batteries. On May 19, the new company, called Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), began full operations. The new company will invest $114.6 million over a three-year period in a manufacturing facility that will start producing 13,000 batteries per year in 2009. At full capacity, the plant will manufacture 65,000 batteries per year.
The batteries employ a compact laminated configuration with lithium-manganese electrodes, which NEC TOKIN will manufacture at a separate facility through an additional investment of $105.1 million over the next three years. AESC intends to install the batteries in electric forklifts next year, and Nissan plans to use the batteries in both a hybrid and an all-electric vehicle starting in 2010. Nissan claims that the batteries deliver twice as much power as the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in today's hybrid vehicles. In field tests exceeding 60,000 miles, the batteries have demonstrated high performance without any safety problems, according to the company. See the Nissan press release.