One might say that Toyota’s plug-in hybrids are plugged into the future (of course, that would be a terrible, terrible pun and which no one sane would actually make, right?). Either way, Toyota has been markedly successful with the Prius. The Japanese automaker is not, however, standing still.
Diversify, Diversify, Diversify – On Familiar Platforms
With just shy of 5 million vehicles sold in the first half of 2012, Toyota has once again established itself as the largest automaker in the world. In going forward, the company is looking at broadening its model range with more plug-in hybrids. You already know about the Pruis Plug-In, and starting in 2014 (although this is less relevant to our North American readers) an Auris Hybrid is supposed to hit the market, according to Alain Uyttenhoven (Vice-President Product planning at Toyota Motor Europe).
In offering more drive options, Toyota is looking to their current models and poking around under the hood. The tiny and super adorable iQ – it’s a kei car bulked up enough to be street legal outside Japan and built to look pretty to boot – is also supposed to be available as a purely battery-powered car by the end of the year. It’s not going to be inexpensive, but that’s sort of par for the course. Some of Toyota’s earlier promises have been reaffirmed; the NS-4 concept shown off in Detroit in January is supposed to go on sale in 2015 maybe.
Don’t Stop There
Other pure electric vehicles are also in the cards and on the market – the RAV4 EV (for which Toyota partnered up with Tesla) is important for the American market. However, Toyota has another opinion on purely electric cars, and it’s a little unusual; as reported by AutoBild, Uyttenhoven said:
“A 25-30km (15-18 mile) purely electric range is all that most drivers need on a daily basis. A purely electric car with a 150km (93 mile) range is not the solution.”
The potential range of an electric vehicle is apparently one of the biggest drawbacks in the eyes of consumers, and a range of 90-odd miles (while enough for the vast majority of daily driving) doesn’t feel safe enough for most drivers. The solution? Somewhere around 2015 or 2016, Toyota thinks it wants to introduce electric cars with fuel cells.
In order to make hybrid electric/fuel cell cars, Toyota is expanding its level of cooperation with BMW. The FCV-R introduced in Tokyo (it was also in Chicago, and it was super pretty) might be built, too – and the pricing trend continues. Where Uyttenhoven described the iQ EV (known as the Scion iQ in the States) as “probably relatively expensive,” he also called the FCV-R as probably “not particularly cheap.” By which he means it probably won’t have a six-figure price tag. In Euros.
How do you feel about Toyota’s works in progress? Let us know in the comments below.