Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Favorite Flavor

The new 2016 Prius will offer two choices, depending on which model you choose, in battery packs. The traditional nickel-metal hydride pack will come in the lower grades (less options) models and the high grades will come equipped with lithium ion packs. Why?

Each pack costs about the same to make, offers similar performance, and probably won’t affect fuel economy. However, the lithium-ion pack will weigh 35 pounds less than the NiMH pack, and that’s important, according to Automotive News. The lighter pack will allow Toyota to pack more equipment into higher-end models without harming efficiency, the industry trade journal claims.
“In higher grades, the mass is increased so it’s harder to get good fuel economy,” Prius chief engineer Kouji Toyoshima said during a test drive event for the car. “So in those we will use lithium-ion batteries.” He expects a virtually even split between cars equipped with the NiMH battery pack and cars equipped with the lithium-ion pack.

The 35 pound difference, while realm seems like a somewhat odd reason given that the Prius weighs over a ton. Toyota claims the packs cost the same, which somewhat belies the deployment strategy but, we take them at their word, I suppose.

2016 lithium ion battery pack (photo courtesy of Toyota)

2016 nickel-metal hydride battery pack (photo courtesy of Toyota)