Are Lithium-Ion and Battery-Switching The Future Of The Automobile? Not If You Ask Toyota’s Bill Reinert
How to make tomorrow’s automobile more efficient and less harmful to the environment is a question that has some of the greatest minds around the world searching for answers. With everything from ethanol and lithium-ion to battery-switching being offered up as solutions, a true consensus on the issue remains to be seen.
While lithium-ion batteries for plug-in vehicles and Shai Agassi’s Better Place battery-switching model are currently receiving much of the attention when it comes to the future of the automobile, not all are sold on these ideas. At a recent green-think conference sponsored by Fortune magazine in Orange County, Ca.; Toyota Motor Sales’ national manager for the advanced technology group Bill Reinert unleashed his opposing thoughts regarding these concepts, pointing out reasons that impede both from becoming viable solutions to a problem so many are trying to resolve.
“That’s the first law of Disney at work–wishing will make it so. Using ethanol for fuel is like electing the dumbest kid in school as class president. As for plug-in electrics, they’re just not plausible right now. Lithium-ion batteries are too expensive by at least an order of magnitude. They’re not energy-dense enough. And we generate a lot of our electricity from coal. I don’t think Shai [Agassi, of Better Place] is being disingenuous. I think he really believes what he’s saying. I see it all the time from those Palo Alto types. They think the whole world is like a computer company, and they’re always trying to recreate the dot-com economy. You see exactly the same mind-set with Tesla. It’s all going to work out. It worked out with eBay. It worked out with SAP. But transportation is a different world. I mean, Shai’s bragging about driving an electric RAV4 with a seventy-mile range. How many of your friends are going to buy that car?”