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Despite the new 2016 Toyota Prius being available with a modern lithium-ion traction battery, Toyota Australia has revealed that it will stick with the older Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) cells for its local vehicles instead.

Speaking to CarAdvice, Tony Cramb, executive director of sales and marketing for Toyota Australia, explains that the decision to keep with the traditional Ni-MH batteries follows a thorough examination of the local market’s requirements, with cost factors naturally considered as well.

“There are other markets that have the lithium (battery packs). But we decided to stay with the nickel hydride (Ni-MH) because it is proven and tested and, as you can see, it’s a reduced battery (size), fits under the back seat, but gives us all the benefits (same energy as the previous models),” Cramb said.

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The new lithium-ion traction battery designed for the fourth-gen Toyota Prius is 10% smaller than the Ni-MH cells, and can be charged much quicker given its 28% improvement in energy absorption.

Also, with starting prices for the new Prius in Australia now at AUD$32,490 (RM99k), being AUD$2,500 (RM7,620) more than the outgoing model, specifying the lithium-ion cells for the market would only increase that price further. Inevitably, this also played a part in Toyota Australia’s decision to stick with Ni-MH cells.

“The battery price has come down and obviously with advances in battery technology around the world you see the investment that other companies are making in battery technology. More and more, it will get cheaper and cheaper over time, I am sure,” Cramb said. “One day, lithium will be the future but for the time being, nickel hydride is the most appropriate for here in Australia,” he concluded.