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Toyota hybrid sales accelerating

Origins: 2021 was the 20th anniversary of Toyota’s first Prius arriving in Australia and the year the brand sold more than 65,000 hybrids in this country, taking the total to 242,000 units.

In the year the Prius that started it all turned 20, Toyota Aus sold 65K hybrids

10 Jan 2022

TOYOTA’S first foray into electrification, the Prius, arrived in Australia in October 2001. Sales in its early years were lacklustre, barely breaking into the triple digits, but in 2021 the company delivered more than 65,000 hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) to take the 20-year total to more than 242,000 sales.


Hybrid sales performance in 2021 – buoyed by the wild popularity of the RAV4 hybrid line-up, as well as the Camry and Corolla – exceeded the high bar set by Toyota in 2020.


Of the 242,000 hybrid sales to date, more than half came in 2020 and 2021, two of the most difficult years facing the Australian car market in living memory.


Toyota Australia remains a staunch defender of HEV, the company’s vice president of marketing and sales Sean Hanley previously going on record as saying the company will take a slow approach to battery electrification while also pointing to other measures to improve emissions, such as tighter fuel standards.


Speaking at an industry press conference to mark the brand’s market win in 2021, Toyota Australia president and CEO Matthew Callachor took the opportunity to continue the local arm’s commitment to tackling climate change via HEVs.


Hybrids accounted for nearly 30 per cent of Toyota’s 2021 sales volume, with 65,491 electrified models delivered to customers. Of these, 25,850 were a RAV4, with healthy contributions from the Corolla, Camry, Yaris Cross and Kluger. 


Other big sellers in the Toyota range – namely the HiLux and LandCruiser – are not yet offered with hybrid versions.


Mr Callachor said the 242,272 HEVs sold by Toyota in the last 20 years have reduced carbon emissions by the same amount as 72,000 battery electric vehicles (BEV). He went on to say that batteries used by Toyota HEVs would only supply enough battery power for 3500 BEVs.


While these are slightly woolly statistics, Toyota says its proof that the market appeal of HEVs has translated into real-world emissions reductions and maintains its line that the current market line-up of BEVs is not very efficient for most customer needs.


"If you're recharging a 400km BEV every night for an average round-trip commute of around 40 kilometres, then you're not getting any carbon-reduction benefit from 90 per cent of the battery cells," Mr Callachor said.


"If we put those unused batteries to use in other electrified vehicles, we could prevent far more carbon from entering the atmosphere.”


Mr Callachor is basing these figures around the average Australian commute of between 30km and 40km, although Toyota’s line-up does not include plug-in hybrids with that kind of EV-only range.


Having said all that, Toyota is embarking on a program of 30 new models by 2030, with a yearly BEV sales target of 3.5 million. The first Toyota of the type in Australia will be the bZ4X crossover and the company will announce the date of its local launch later in 2022.


"We will evaluate different options and introduce them as appropriate to help our customers on their journey to zero emissions, ensuring no-one is left behind," Mr Callachor said.


"In a country as diverse as Australia, we need to offer diverse options that – for example – account for different energy sources as well as large differences in customer usage and needs," he said.


"In addition to our own plans for introducing a wide range of electrified vehicles, including BEVs, Toyota has also been sharing our electrification patents, including for HEVs, for more than 10 years.


"Right now, due to their popularity and record sales in Australia, Toyota HEVs provide a significant benefit in reducing the amount of carbon entering the atmosphere. They are reducing more emissions, sooner, than BEVs alone."

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