Toyota has reiterated its commitment to hybrid powertrain technology by revealing that it will have a range of no less than nine hybrid cars on sale in Europe next year.
The company says the Hybrid Synergy Drive system it shares with sister marque Lexus will form a backbone of its future strategy. Together Toyota and Lexus will launch or update 25 models in its range across the next two years.
Next year’s hybrid Toyota line-up will be bolstered by the Prius plug-in and Prius+ seven-seater, both launched at the Frankfurt motor show this week, as well as the forthcoming Yaris hybrid.
Speaking at the Frankfurt motor show, Didier Leroy, president of Toyota Motor Europe, said, “Our commitment to hybrid is absolute. Toyota/Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive is our defining technology”
The Japanese manufacturer has enjoyed a 20 per cent upsurge in sales of its hybrid machinery and has experienced a 20,000 sales increase year-on-year in Europe. A total of about 3.3 million Toyota/Lexus hybrids have now been sold since the first Prius went on sale in 1997.
Toyota believes its new Prius plug-in hybrid has several advantages over its alternatively powered rivals. The petrol-electric car has a 14-mile range as an EV alone, returns fuel economy of 134mpg and has a full range of almost 500 miles.
The company is adamant that its choice of retaining the Prius plug-in’s 1800cc engine to drive the wheels at times rather than turn exclusively to electric propulsion, such as with Vauxhall’s new Ampera, is the best way forward because the ‘real’ engine helps to create a more familiar driving experience.
Toyota is also putting its faith in the robust electronics installed within the Prius. The design of the car is mechanically simple – it requires no starter motor or gears, for example. It does have regenerative braking, which helps to reduce wear, thus making the braking system more reliable.
Toyota says its competitive advantage is the profitability of its hybrid models, but also believes a substantial education campaign is needed to help customers navigate the ever-increasing complexities of choice involved in buying a hybrid vehicle.