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Toyota sets a clean future

Hybrid hero: Toyota says its Prius will remain a core model in its long-term plan to introduce more zero-emissions models.

Prius is Toyota’s stepping stone to a zero-emissions future

8 Mar 2016

HYBRID technology will remain with Toyota well into the future as a keystone in the company’s search for the “final solution” in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by as much as 90 per cent by 2050.

Toyota’s commitment to hybrids comes as the company said it plans to have 30,000 fuel-cell cars on the roads by 2020.

It has already launched its Mirai fuel-cell car in the United States, Japan and Europe and the car-maker has confirmed that much of the technology in the Mirai is also used in the latest Prius.

The Mirai has been ruled out for an Australian launch given the lack of government incentives and refueling infrastructure across the country.

In launching its fourth-generation Prius hybrid this week, Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb said hybrids would not alone achieve the target but would remain an integral part of the company's plan.

“We haven’t held it (Prius) up as being the final solution,” he said.

“But hybrids offer us a way to a sustainable future. It can also lead us in many directions, such as electric vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles.

“All the technology we’re dealing with in Prius is leading us to find the final solution.” Toyota says it aims to reduce its fleet fuel consumption average by 22 per cent by 2020 and it plans reach annual sales of 1.5 million hybrid vehicles in the same year.

But its more ambitious target is the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, the aim of which is to eliminate all carbon-dioxide emissions at its factories and have a 90 per cent reduction in vehicle emissions.

The Prius was intended to be a transitional model when introduced almost 20 years ago and was seen as being the precursor to fuel cell or electric vehicles.

Mr Cramb said the Prius remained in the line-up because there was a “continuous target of continuous improvement” in alternative powertrains.

“Twenty years is not a long time,” he said of the Prius’ gestation.

“It will take a long time to get to zero emissions. It’s a long-term goal but the target has strengthened our resolve.” While Toyota has sold more than 8.6 million hybrid vehicles globally – including hybrid variants of models such as the Camry – sales of the Prius have exceeded 3.6 million worldwide, with just under 20,000 in Australia.

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