Digital Journal — Toyota, the second largest automaker in the world, plans to release a car in 2007 that can run entirely on ethanol, and an ethanol/gas blend according to a CNET report.
Yusei Higaki, a project manager in Toyota’s global external affairs division, said pricing and the car’s name have not been revealed yet, but the car is set to launch in Brazil. Brazil is the obvious choice, as ethanol is widely available from sugar cane and the fuel is currently sold at a number of fuel stations.
CNET reports that Toyota also started trials of its gas-to-liquid (GTL) fuel cars in Europe. Cars running on GTL convert natural gas to a “relatively clean form of fuel” for diesels. GTL vehicles spit out lower levels of particulates, but are expensive because they are rare. As cities grow and attempt to find more alternatives to dirty diesel fuel that has been a major source of air pollution, the cost of GTL vehicles are expected to come way down.
The news comes from Toyota at the same time North American car makers are struggling with slumping sales. Toyota, on the other hand, has seen shipments rise 25 per cent in the U.S. last month alone, and analysts predict it will overtake GM as the world’s largest automaker in a few years. Toyota will also supply Nissan’s hybrids — due out in 2007 — with technology and components.
According to Toyota, the company says its Prius — a hybrid that runs on both gas and electricity — is one of the reasons it has become such a hit, with sales growing from 28,083 in 2002 to 175,157 last year. Toyota aims to sell at least one million hybrids in about six or seven years. Between 1997 and July 2006, Toyota has sold 552,657 Prius cars, or almost 77 per cent of hybrids shipped by all worldwide manufacturers.
Toyota is also looking at the hydrogen fuel cell car, but the technology is awhile from being mainstream as it is costly and fuel stations would need to be built eveywhere.