Toyota may be rolling out hybrid tech across its entire model range, but the firm wants to keep the Prius name above bread-and-butter vehicles in its model line-up, insiders have revealed.
The belief is that whatever the eco tech, the Prius badge is for early adopters willing to pay slightly more for it.
Toyota will produce one million hybrid drivetrains this year to be used in its Prius and Auris HSD models, but the company plans to have a hybrid in every range by 2020.
However, it is reluctant to develop a new system for future hybrids, given the proven reliability and cost advantages of its 1.8-litre petrol engine/electric motor/nickel-metal hydride batteries system.
Toyota’s powertrain guru, Gerald Killman, has previously confirmed the company will be launching more hybrids and said its current hybrid system could lend itself to sporty driving characteristics.
“Our hybrid technology is adaptable,” he claimed. “There is flexibility in the application of our hybrid system; we don’t want to develop a new one when we can give ours more character.”
The company intends to put more fun back into its models and the GNRM Sports Hybrid Concept unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January has kick-started this process.
Toyota is set to lead a raft of Japanese hybrid sports cars with a successor to the MR2 and a reborn Supra. Both are due within the next four years.
Scheduled for late 2013, the MR2 replacement will have a hybrid powertrain based on a 1.5-litre petrol engine.
The model was originally going to use a V6 hybrid powertrain, but the success of Honda’s CR-Z in Japan is said to have prompted a rethink.See all the latest Toyota reviews, news and video