From modest beginnings to a local market staple

From modest beginnings with the 2001 Australian introduction of the Prius, the Toyota Hybrid has now become a staple of the local automotive market.

Accounting for more than one-quarter of Toyota’s 2020 sales, the hybrid has expanded into another five more models (Camry, Corolla, Yaris, Rav4 and C-HR), each with multiple variants. It’s the biggest line-up of hybrids from one manufacturer in Australia – and the exciting news is, there’s more to come.

All-time sales have now tipped 135,000 for the marque in Australia as Toyota’s hybrid alternative continues to tick many boxes for fleet buyers.

And it’s not hard to see why.

Combining the power of petrol engines with the fuel savings of electric motors, hybrids deliver lower emissions without the hassle of waiting around for a battery to be recharged. It does it while you drive, offering piece of mind that you won’t run out of power on a long trip.

Offering lower fuel costs over the life of the vehicle, Toyota’s range of hybrids cost no more to service than the petrol equivalent during the Toyota Service Advantage period. Re-sale values are shown to hold up better than the same petrol models too.

Lowering individual and corporate impact on the environment is not only achieved through reduced emissions; nearly every component of a hybrid HV battery can be recycled.

When a hybrid HV battery is recycled in excess of 98 percent of the battery materials are diverted from landfill, and all toxic elements are removed.

The hybrid HV battery metal cover and associated metal parts and plastic components are recycled locally while its battery cells are exported in EPA-approved sealed containers for recovery of base metals. The printed circuit boards are exported for recovery of copper, lead, gold and silver.

The batteries themselves are covered under warranty for up to 10 years.

Compare the pair

The Hybrid advantage is most readily illustrated through the Toyota through the Hybrid Comparison Calculator.

Here you can compare ‘like with like’ where any petrol version of a Toyota can be stacked up against its Hybrid counterpart. Simply input the make and model, a base price per litre of petrol and the amount of kilometres driven in a year and the calculator will give you the projected annual cost-saving with the hybrid.

The results make for some interesting reading. Based on Toyota’s flagship 2.5L Camry Ascent, at a petrol cost of $1.20/litre over 20,000km – the annual saving is $864 for the hybrid. Double the kilometres driven and you double the saving.

Such savings are undoubtedly a key factor in making the Hybrid RAV4 one of the most in-demand vehicles in the country.

So popular has it been that the vehicle made automotive history in Australia when it topped the local industry sales for the month of August, 2020. It marked the first time that the hybrid-powered version of any model has outsold every other vehicle available in Australia.

But it’s not just the annual financial benefits when it comes to the hybrid,  it’s also what it saves the environment. In the Camry example, the Hybrid produces 1.70 tonnes less C02 each year.

The future: Kluger goes plug-in; battery and hydrogen technology

Hybrid technology will move to seven seats when the next-generation Kluger SUV offers the variant when it launches in the first half of 2021.

Embracing a similar dual-powertrain strategy to that adopted by the Yaris Cross SUV and the latest-generation C-HR and RAV4, the Kluger Hybrid will feature an intelligent AWD system that incorporates front and rear electric motors.

Beyond the hybrid system, Toyota continues to develop technologies for plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles. At this stage, however, it won’t be introducing them to the Australian market.

The good news is public charging infrastructure to embrace such technology is increasing – albeit in a country the size of Australia not yet at a rate to make it a viable mainstream alternative.

Public charging infrastructure across Australia has risen by 400% since 2017 and there are now  around 1,930 electric vehicle charging stations across the country.

Toyota awaits more development in national infrastructure and policy to support it,  widespread deployment of plug-in and battery electric vehicles a longer-term goal alongside more affordable eclectic vehicles for the everyday Australian.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles represent another major development in environmentally sustainable vehicles, hydrogen power derived from renewable sources. While the infrastructure has also yet to be developed to support the technology in Australia, Toyota is supporting it to eventually happen. Earlier this year Toyota opened a $7.4 million Hydrogen Centre in Melbourne to help open the door for its future use in vehicles.

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