Toyota, the Biggest Car Manufacturer in California

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A compact hybrid (hence the "CH." "FT" stands for "Future Toyota"). Toyota says it intends to sell a million hybrids a year worldwide, and to that end, is developing a fleet of hybrids in multiple sizes and price points.

At the LA Auto Show, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., debuted the second-generation RAV4 EV.

The basic vehicle will be manufactured in Woodstock, Ontario.  Tesla will build the battery and related bits in Palo Alto.  "The method and installation location of the Tesla components into the vehicle is being discussed," according to the press release.

Some 35 demo vehicles will be built for testing 2011, and then it's off to market in 2012. That's just the RAV4 EV.

Toyota's also planning to launch, with a little help from Panasonic, eight new (not next-generation) hybrid models, a small EV commuter vehicle and a plug-in Prius.

Already, there 600 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids on the roads in Europe, Japan, and the U.S., mainly as fleet vehicles.

John Addison of CleanTech.org wonders if Toyota can sell a $30,000 plug-in with a wee 5 kWh lithium battery pack, when it's competing against 16 kWh pack in the Chevrolet Volt - 24kWh in the Nissan LEAF.  As you might expect, both go further on an all-electric basis than the plug-in Prius.

But the Prius gets close to the 50 miles per gallon of gasoline. And customers have bought over 2 million Prius (the plural Toyota prefers). "No other hybrid comes close," Addison writes. "No other automaker now offers more choices in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles...Only the more expensive electric cars and plug-in hybrids, including several models from Toyota." Not to mention Lexus.

As for that little guy you see in the photo, it's 22 inches shorter than Prius, lighter, and thus, more fuel efficient. Also, from the perspective of one who drives in San Francisco, more easily parked...

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About Rachael Myrow

Rachael Myrow hosts the California Report for KQED. Over 17 years in public radio, she's worked for Marketplace and KPCC, filed for NPR and The World, and developed a sizable tea collection that's become the envy of the KQED newsroom. She specializes in politics, economics and history in California - but for emotional balance, she also covers food and its relationship to health and happiness.

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