This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 15, 2003

Toyota to Produce First Hybrid Electric Luxury SUV in 2005

Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled a new hybrid electric drive system on January 7th and promised to use it in the Lexus RX 330, a luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV), by 2005. Toyota's new hybrid system combines front and rear electric motors with a traditional gasoline engine and a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. According to Toyota, the hybrid electric Lexus RX 330 will use a six-cylinder engine to produce the power and torque of an eight-cylinder engine with "the fuel mileage of a compact car." For now, the new hybrid drive is featured in Toyota's sport utility hybrid vehicle (SU-HV) concept car, now on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. See the Toyota press release.

Toyota also unveiled a new fuel-cell-powered concept car on January 7th. The sporty concept vehicle, called the "FINE-S," is reminiscent of the Hywire concept vehicle introduced by General Motors Corporation in October 2001. Like the Hywire, the FINE-S "reveals the potential styling versatility for fuel-cell vehicles," making it possible to "install the technology in a wide variety of vehicle types, shapes and sizes, based on a shared platform." See Toyota press release.

The North American International Auto Show is also debuting a new all-electric vehicle, the Matra P75. Produced by French automaker Matra Automobile, the working prototype combines a lithium-ion battery and a 50-kilowatt motor to achieve a top speed of 87 miles per hour and a range of 124 miles. The car is at the auto show as part of the Michelin Challenge Design display. See the Michelin press release and the Matra Web page.