Toyota Says It's Not Worried About Honda's Hybrid Technology

By Jacob Brown | October 14, 2013
Just a few weeks ago, we found ourselves mightily impressed with the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, which uses a new two-motor hybrid system that allows it to be rated at 50 mpg city. Toyota, however, says that Honda may have brought its A-game, but it will be no match for the next generation hybrid technology coming from its Japanese rival. Speaking with us last week at a press event in Japan, Toyota managing officer Satoshi Ogiso, the "father of the Prius," said that he's had a lot of time studying Honda's two-motor system and that the next Toyota system will be better. "We've looked very closely at it," he said. "We're not worried." He didn't elaborate too much but to say that Toyota was well into development of its next system and would stick closely to the parallel hybrid system currently used by his company as well as Ford.
On the other hand, Honda's two-motor system uses a clutch pack to modulate between the engine and electric motor system, essentially using the motors in place of a traditional transmission. In the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, it allows the somewhat heavy car to achieve a 50 mpg city/45 mpg highway fuel economy rating and uses a lithium-ion battery pack. Toyota has continued to use a nickel-metal battery pack--larger and heavier, but far more robust. Toyota's plug-in hybrids and electric cars use lithium-ion batteries. There's no indication that will change anytime soon. At August's Toyota Hybrid World Tour in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Ogiso said that Toyota was aiming for a 10-percent improvement over the current Prius with the next-generation hybrid hatchback. That would put the 2015 Toyota Prius at 56 mpg in the city and 53 in the city, averaging 55 mpg combined. The next-generation hatchback is expected to be larger and more refined than the current vehicle, and it is expected to use components from the Toyota Next Generation Architecture, which will mean it ought to be lower than the current car and hopefully handle better than the 2013 model we tested not too long ago. Toyota will be showing off the 2015 Prius over the next few months, with the public unveiling expected to be at January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.