Toyota Continues Expanding its Hybrid Lineup

Monday, August 26, 2013

By Roger Schreffler

Tokyo - (PanOrient News) Toyota Motor Corp. launched another new hybrid vehicle in early August - the Corolla.

Initially, the car will be available only in Japan and sold in two variants, the Corolla Axio and Corolla Fielder. Planned sales: 2,500 units.

The Corolla Hybrid is Toyota’s 20th hybrid since the automaker launched the Prius in December 1997.

Since the Prius’s launch, Toyota has sold more than 5.5 million hybrid cars including 1.2 million in 2012, more than two thirds of global hybrid and electric vehicle demand during the year, all brands (see tables 1 & 2).

More importantly, a recent study by Goldman Sachs Japan claims that the automaker can now produce hybrids with profit margins ‘in line with its per-vehicle average’ for non-hybrid cars.

Toyota now produces 12% of all hybrids outside Japan at plants in six countries including the U.S., U.K., France, China, Thailand and Australia.

Unlike rivals Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Toyota believes that plug-in hybrids offer greater potential for medium and longer-distance driving than electric vehicles (EVs), while management sees fuel cell vehicles as the best long-term alternative once a hydrogen fueling infrastructure is in place.

Toyota is nevertheless planning contingencies for if and when EV technology is viable.

In late July, the automaker joined with Nissan, Mitsubishi and Honda Motor Co. to develop a battery charging infrastructure throughout Japan.

Their goal: to put 8,000 standard chargers and 4,000 quick chargers in place by 2020, up from current 3,000 and 1,700 totals.

In September 2012, Toyota launched the RAV4 EV in North America. The automaker plans to sell 2,600 over a three-year period.

The RAV4 EV is being assembled by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Canada.

Toyota followed with the Scion iQ EV. In the case of the iQ, sales will be limited to fleet programs. Globally it plans to lease 100 units including 90 in the U.S.

Meanwhile, Toyota has expanded its technical alliance with BMW AG to include hydrogen fuel cells and electric drivetrains. Earlier, the automakers joined forces to work in advanced lithium-ion battery development.

At the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota unveiled a fuel cell-powered sedan, the FCV-R, which has a cruising range of more than 700 km. The automaker plans to introduce the car in 2015.

Toyota hasn’t made a decision about the FCHV-adv, a fuel vehicle based on the Highlander SUV. Since the model’s 2010 debut, the automaker has leased more than 75 units including 60 in the U.S. and 15 in Japan.

Table 1: Toyota Hybrid Sales in 2012

Alphard Hybrid 12,540
Avalon Hybrid 750
Crown Hybrid 2,660
Estima Hybrid 9,740
Harrier Hybrid 710
Highlander Hybrid 7,100
Prius 362,950
Prius c/Aqua 315,410
Prius v/Prius Alpha 186,990
Prius Plug-In 27,280
Sai 8,540
Vellfire Hybrid 11,320
Yaris Hybrid 25,040
Dyna Hybrid 130
Toyoace Hybrid 70
Lexus CT 200h 64,020
Lexus ES 300h 11,370
Lexus GS450h 8,460
Lexus HS250h 5,730
Lexus LS600h 2,790
Lexus RX450h 31,880

Total 1,219,260

Source: Toyota

Table 2: Japanese Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid & EV Sales in 2012

Hybrids Plug-In Hybrids EVs Total

Toyota 1,191,980 27,380 192 1,219,552
Honda 231,152 - 122 231,274
Nissan 35,487 - 26,978 62,465
Mitsubishi 0 - 9,124 9,124
Mazda 0 - 50 50
Hino 1,096 - - 1,096
Mitsubishi Fuso 536 - - 536
Isuzu 258 - - 258

Total 1,460,509 27,380 36,466 1,524,355

Source: Ward’s Auto

Roger Schreffler is a veteran business journalist who has covered the Japanese energy scene for more than twenty years.

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