Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Toyota: Hybrids for now, the ultimate eco-car in 2015

Attending this year’s Frankfurt motor show, Toyota said that hybrid engines have become the “tipping point” for the technology’s future.
The automaker’s new 12-car line up comprises purely of models equipped with hybrid engines, vehicles that use a combination of fossil fuel and electric charging.
Electric vehicle (EV) sales remain sluggish, as many consumers worry about their range, finding a charging station, short-term high investment and the time it takes to charge up a battery. However, hybrid models — that can switch between traditional fossil fuel and cleaner electricity — are often not quite as expensive, and lay to rest many consumer worries.
Didier Leroy, head of Toyota’s European operations, says that hybrid models are the way forward, commenting:
“This is a tipping point for the technology. It is now recognised as the key technology needed to achieve the very ambitious emissions targets set by the European Commission.
Even though our competitors are also introducing hybrid cars in their line-up, our market share is still growing. I think the consumer understands that the technology has got better. And so has the driving experience.”
Last year, the automaker sold approximately 110,000 hybrid models in Europe, accounting for approximately 65 percent of the market. In 2013, this figure is closer to 75 percent.
While Toyota’s first mass-produced hybrid car, the Prius, entered the market 14 years ago, technology has moved on since then. The car manufacturer has launched a plug-in hybrid, but Leroy believes the next game-changer in the industry will be a vehicle that mixes hybrid technology with fuel cells — a car that Toyota wants to bring to market by 2015.
“This technology can be close to the ultimate eco-car,” Leroy says. “And, step-by-step, it will be a very promising technology for the future.”