Toyota says that it has a “responsibility to make a stand” as Australia’s market leader and drastically cut the CO2 emissions of its local vehicle range — with or without the sort of government-enforced regulations already entrenched in Europe, the US and much of Asia.
Moreover, it has emphatically shot down any suggestions that such policies would jeopardise the future of its beloved diesel-fired 4x4s and pickups, saying its product plans for the long-term are wholly inclusive of such vehicles.
In an unusually blunt and forthright speech delivered this week at the launch of its new Corolla, Toyota Australia vice-president of national operations, Sean Hanley, called on lawmakers to enact CO2 emissions targets in tandem with tougher fuel quality requirements.
It’s not entirely surprising, given the latter especially has become a hot-button issue within the industry, and championed by its peak body the FCAI. Some OEMs out of Europe are even prepared to launch their ‘developing market’ product, as the latest tech cannot always handle our fuel quality.
“Australia must harmonise its emissions standards with leading overseas markets,” Hanley said. “That will require us to do the same with fuel standards — namely [mandating] low sulphur fuel. We can’t achieve first-world emissions without first-world fuel.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hanley called for passenger-oriented vehicles to be classified differently to work-oriented commercials and certain 4x4s. Toyota has a huge reliance on HiLux (Australia’s #1 vehicle), LandCruiser and Prado.
“CO2 targets should distinguish between passenger cars, and LCVs and certain off-road passenger SUVs. That’s how they do it in the US and Canada,” he suggested, before issuing a reassurance to rusted-on buyers.
“Recently I've seen communications that mandated targets will kill off the rugged diesel vehicles for which Toyota is renowned. Let me reassure you, that will not happen. Our plans as far out as we can see show continued strong sales of HiLux and LandCruiser.”
Hanley then said Toyota Australia would be remiss not to get on the front foot. Toyota is well positioned to lead this agenda given its scale and growing fleet of petrol-electric hybrid cars, in particular.
“We can assure you, Toyota is not waiting for emissions laws to be enacted. We recognise all car makers must reduce the environmental impact of their vehicles. The impact of mass-market hybrids is vital, and no-one knows hybrid better than Toyota,” he said.
About 40 per cent of all Camry models sold in Australia this year have hybrid drivetrains, while every version of the new Corolla comes with a $1500 hybrid option. The new RAV4 SUV due early next year will also be available as a hybrid for the first time.
“We have a responsibly to take a stand and we are doing that with our hybrid model offensive. In the next 30 months we will have 5 new hybrid models available,” Hanley confirmed.
“You can be sure we will accelerate both the availability and marketing of this core technology of the 21st century,” he added, stating that Toyota’s 11.5 million hybrid sales globally so far (10 per cent of this in 2017) has reduced its fleet CO2 emissions by about 90,000 tonnes.
Beyond this, Toyota has pledged worldwide to cut its emissions by 90 per cent by 2050, and wants to sell 5.5 million electrified cars (hybrid, EV and fuel-cell) annually by 2030. Development has also stared on a next generation super-sports car with hybrid tech.
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