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Toyota expanding hybrid range

Off-road charge: Toyota is building its hybrid range with a particular emphasis on the American market and its demand for SUVs.

Growing hybrid range could one day offer green version of every Toyota model

Toyota logo7 Apr 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER in NEW YORK

TOYOTA will continue to add hybrid vehicles across its global range in a green vehicle strategy that could eventually see at least one hybrid variant of each of the Japanese car-maker's models.

The facelifted RAV4 SUV revealed at the New York International Auto Show is the latest Toyota to be given the hybrid treatment, but more will follow, the company says.

Speaking at the presentation of the RAV4 Hybrid in New York, Toyota USA group vice-president and general manager William Fay told GoAuto the addition of the RAV4 hybrid takes the auto-maker closer to range-wide hybrids.

“This certainly takes us a step in that direction, but that would still be a way off,” he said. “Somewhere down the road we could potentially see that, sure.”

Mr Fay couldn't elaborate on which model would be the next to be offered as a hybrid, but with significant demand in the SUV segment, Toyota's high-riders were in the running.

“We have now in the RAV and the Highlander (sold as Kluger in Australia) so whether we get it in all our SUVs is still open to evaluation, but I think we are systematically moving in a direction to satisfy consumer interest and demand in the advantages that the hybrid delivers,” he said.

“The more serious off-roaders aren't really demanding it yet but we have Tacomas and Tundras (utes) and areas where they can go that doesn't have a hybrid, but you don't know as time goes on and consumer choices evolve, they may.”

Typically, hybrid sales are directly affected by fluctuating fuel prices, but Mr Fay explained the current low oil price wasn't influencing the company's hybrid vehicle projects.

“We are doing this for the long term. Although fuel prices are down today I think we expect them to modulate over time. The consumer benefit is still pretty compelling whether it is really expensive gas or not.”

Mr Fay went on to say the RAV4 hybrid had been created following strong customer demand, indicating a consumer base that is concerned both for the environment and running costs.

“Our customers have been asking us for a hybrid compact SUV and we listened,” he said.

“There's no doubt that the RAV4 is hot right now and we're going to make sure it stays hot by giving customers an additional reason to love it – the RAV4 hybrid.

“Toyota has dominated the hybrid market, selling more than seven million gas (petrol) electric vehicles across the globe, resulting in a positive impact to the environment and our owner's wallets.

“Today, Toyota hybrid vehicles have resulted in nearly 50 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions... and have saved hybrid owners over 4.75 billion gallons of gasolene and our hybrid story isn't stopping there.”

With a solid incentive scheme, the United States represents one of the most hybrid-hungry markets in the world, but with no similar incentive schemes in Australia, Toyota will not be offering the RAV4 Hybrid here.

The company has also recently ruled out a hybrid Kluger for Australia.

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