More hybrid goodness for local buyers

Toyota Australia has confirmed it will increase its hybrid lineup from five to eight models by the end of 2020, reinforcing its commitment to technology the brand says will lend it a stronger foothold in the market.

The current Toyota hybrid range includes the Prius C, Corolla Hybrid, Prius V, Prius and Camry Hybrid. The three additional models are yet to be confirmed, but they likely won't include the recently-launched and very popular CH-R compact SUV.

Speaking to Australian media at the Geneva motor show today, vice-president for sales and marketing at Toyota Australia, Sean Hanley, highlighted the planned growth for hybrid vehicles locally.

“Hybrid is a very important drivetrain for Toyota, one that we have been developing for 17 years in this country so it’s not like we just turned up today. We have been doing it a long time,” Hanley said.

“We will have eight hybrid models in the Toyota models by the end of 2020, of which three of those will be new models.”

Hanley said with strict CO2 regulations likely to hit Australia between 2020 and 2025, Toyota is in a formidable position to tackle the challenges.

“We are well positioned and I say that with some confidence, because we have been on the hybrid journey for 17 years in this country and 20 years as a global company. Our parent company has made it very clear that we will increase our hybrid and fuel cell sales significantly to what it is today.”

According to Hanley, Toyota globally will invest in three core technologies for its future passenger vehicles, with diesel once again nowhere in sight. That will allow the local arm to mix-and-match as it sees fit for our market.

“Where we are very fortunate, particularly in Australia, is that you have three alternative fuel sources for cars; hybrid electric, plug-in electric and you also have now the hydrogen fuel-cell – and we are trialling those cars in Australia.

"Where we are in a great position of strength [is that] we can choose from a number of markets what cars we need to bring to Australia.”

While the hybrid currently accounting for an impressive 40 per cent of Camry sales, the future for plug-in hybrids in Australia seems somewhat bleaker, at least in the short term.

“Plug-in is not something we have ruled out [but] we have no firm plan for one at this stage," Hanley said.

"We believe that the hybrid electric car with the infrastructure that we have today is well supported.

"In the Australian market people drive long distances, we believe that right now the hybrid-petrol car is the most suitable outcome for our market… [I am] not convinced that the Australian market will gravitate to plug-in.”