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

From KQED’s Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow covers politics, economics, technology, food and culture in a vast region extending from Burlingame to Edenvale to Fremont. This follows more than seven years waking at 3 am to host the daily version of KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state during NPR's Morning Edition. She still guest hosts for The California Report and Forum, blogs for Bay Area Bites, and files for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked for Marketplace and KPCC in Los Angeles. Follow @rachaelmyrow

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