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Hybrids continue to build the bridge

Petrol-electric: Kia has added a plug-in hybrid Sorento as part of the brand’s broader SUV electrification, while Toyota has expanded its popular hybrid RAV4 range.

Car-makers boost hybrid and PHEV variants as fuel prices rise and EVs gain traction


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25 Nov 2021

HYBRIDS now account for a record 6.99 per cent of Australia’s new-vehicle market, primarily due to Toyota ramping up its dual-power range to 10 models and recently announcing a broadening of hybrid grades in its popular RAV4 medium SUV range.


The percentage has also been boosted this year by a growing number of hybrids and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) from rival manufacturers, including Kia with its latest Sorento large SUV and all-electrified Niro small SUV range, as well as the new Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV that straddles the small and medium SUV segments.


Toyota-Lexus claims 92 per cent of Australia’s hybrid/PHEV car and SUV market, followed by Mitsubishi at three per cent (Outlander, Eclipse Cross PHEVs), Hyundai on two per cent (Ioniq range of small hatches with hybrid, PHEV and EV options) and Subaru on one per cent with the Forester and XV hybrid SUVs.


This year to date, 62,270 buyers of passenger cars, SUVs and light-commercial vehicles opted for hybrids or PHEVs.


Representing 6.99 per cent of the new-vehicle market to the end of October, these sales compare with a 6.8 per cent share in the 2020 calendar year when the hybrid/PHEV sector rose dramatically from 2019 when they accounted for only 3.1 per cent of all sales.


Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid remains the most popular with sales volume almost double that of its petrol equivalent. In 2020, for example, Toyota sold 8211 RAV4 Hybrids and 4626 petrol RAV4s.


This week, with the launch of more RAV4 Hybrid variants, Toyota Australia said the SUV’s hybrid model accounted for more than 70 per cent of RAV4 sales.


Data from Australian automotive pricing and research business Carloop.com.au stated that sales of the RAV4 Hybrid jumped in popularity over its petrol counterpart during the pandemic.


Based on research of 50,000 hybrid car sales, Carloop said RAV4 Hybrid sales increased by 39 per cent in 2021 from 2019 and, in 2021 to date, are up a further four per cent on these levels.


It added that the price premium of hybrids did not deter new-car buyers. The RAV4 GX 2WD petrol sells for $32,695 plus on-road costs compared with the cheapest hybrid, the GX 2WD at $36,800 (plus costs).


The $4105 difference is despite the Hybrid having a bigger 2.5-litre petrol engine. The lure for buyers and the willingness to pay extra for the Hybrid is attributed to growing publicity of hybrid powerplants and the fuel economy benefits (4.8 litres/100km compared with about 7.0L/100km).


Of the 46,282 hybrid vehicles sold by Toyota, Toyota Corolla Hybrid sales totalled 28,220 (61 per cent of the total), RAV4 Hybrid at 17,094 sales (37 per cent), while the Kluger Hybrid sold 968 (two per cent).


That percentage mix is now expected to swing further to the hybrid versions as Toyota added a mid-level spec XS Hybrid variant – slotting between the GXL and Cruiser – that will be available in 2WD and AWD.


A hybrid version of the Edge AWD has also been added ($52,320 plus costs and the most expensive RAV4).


Most car-makers selling product in Australia now offer a hybrid or PHEV version, including Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Porsche, Nissan, Volvo, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, MG and Mitsubishi.


Lexus and Volkswagen have confirmed PHEV models are in the pipeline for Australia, the latter launching its Cupra performance sub-brand in 2022 with a strong mix of electrified models.

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