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Toyota not against full electrification: Hanley

Hybrid theory: Growing local demand for hybrids has led Toyota Australia to project that at least 40 per cent of its fifth-generation RAV4s sold this year will be petrol-electric variants.

Hybrid the right alternative powertrain for now but Toyota has other options ready

Toyota logo10 May 2019

DESPITE persisting with full hybrid models when other brands are moving en masse to more futuristic alternative powertrains that further reduce emissions, Toyota Australia says it is not against broader electrification but will only take it to market when the time is right.

 

Speaking to journalists this week at the RAV4 national media launch in Adelaide, Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said plug-in hybrids, such as the Prius Prime available overseas, are within the company’s reach but not the only option out there.

 

“We’re always evaluating and reviewing our product line-up and evaluating what models and powertrains are indeed right for our market,” he said.

 

“So, rather than considering one powertrain as a ‘silver bullet’ option for CO2 emissions – for example, like plug-in electric or other types of full-electric vehicles – we believe in a holistic approach that includes a number of powertrains.

 

“We consider (the definition of) electrification includes our hybrid petrol that’s available now in the market, we consider fuel-cell vehicles in the future as electrification, we consider full plug-in hybrids as an option of the future and, indeed, full EVs as an option of the future.

 

“The good news is that around the world right now, in China and Europe, Toyota has these types of vehicles available, so depending on the requirements of the market of the future, we can draw down on this product if we need to.”

 

Mr Hanley said the result of the upcoming local federal election, which has seen both major parties trade barbs over EV policy, will have no effect on Toyota Australia’s push towards its definition of electrification.

 

“We’ll continue to work with both sides of government,” he said. “We share the common goal of the government of the day and that is to reduce our CO2 footprint.

 

“We’ll continue to work with industry through the FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries) to bring about what we think is a framework that delivers on a balance of environment, customer needs and that of manufacturers.”

 

Furthermore, Mr Hanley moved “to dispel any myth that anyone believes that Toyota is against full electrification”, adding that it will “play a leading role in the transition to a zero-emissions society”.

 

“We’re just not,” he said. “We’re making significant investments in battery technology in both China and the US right now.

 

“Some would suggest, in many ways, that we’re that leading that charge – no pun intended.

 

“We know for a fact that stricter CO2 and environment regulations are coming, but at Toyota, I can ensure you we are not waiting.

 

“For decades, Toyota has been investing in alternative powertrains, … (so) we are well positioned to meet anticipated CO2 regulations whenever they come.”

 

One such alternative powertrain is full hybrid, a technology that Mr Hanley said makes the most sense in the potentially long transition to a zero-emissions society.

 

“Today, the most affordable and accessible solution on the path to sustainability is hybrid,” he said. “Compared with conventional powertrains, hybrid is the most practical way to produce fewer emissions because it’s available now and it uses existing infrastructure.

 

“Hybrid petrol right now is a credible option as we transition to the ultimate EV or fuel-cell vehicle market environment. It’s practical, there’s no range anxiety and it’s available now.

 

“What we say at Toyota is that we’re not closed to any of these options going forward. Could there be a plug-in hybrid RAV4 going forward? There certainly could be. Are we confirming one here today? No. Do we have the options available if need them? Yes.”

 

The first hybrid Down Under, the facelifted first-generation Prius, entered the market in October 2001 with an internal sales target of five examples per month, with it taking until April 2019 for Toyota Australia to eclipse 100,000 units across its combined hybrid line-up.

 

Mr Hanley claimed that with Prius, Prius C, Prius V, Corolla hatch, Camry and now RAV4, Brand T has “the broadest line-up of electrified vehicles offered by any company in Australia”.

 

“Our plan this year is to sell at least 25,000 hybrid vehicles – more than twice the number of hybrid vehicles that we sold last year in Australia,” he said.

 

“To me, this is the clear message: These stats don’t lie, they demonstrate the accelerated demand for hybrid in this market. There is a distinct shift happening.

 

“With a new range of buyers, we expect hybrid to account for at least 40 per cent of RAV4 sales for the balance of this year and an even higher share next year.

 

“But in truth, given what we’ve seen on Camry and Corolla, it wouldn’t surprise me if we did much better than 40 per cent.”

 

Two more hybrid models are set to arrive later this year, with the all-new Corolla sedan already confirmed, while the box-fresh Kluger is likely to be the second addition.


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