Toyota has accelerated past two more milestones for its self-charging hybrid technology with UK sales of its hybrid cars reaching 300,000 units. At the same time, total Toyota (GB) hybrid sales, which include Lexus models, have broken through the 400,000 mark.
These totals have been achieved in the 19 years since the original Toyota Prius went on sale, the pioneer for a cleaner and more efficient practical alternative to the conventional petrol and diesel engine.
Since that time, Toyota has consistently maintained its market leadership, establishing the largest range of hybrid models of any manufacturer and constantly improving both performance and driver appeal. Motorists have responded by opting for Toyota hybrids in increasing numbers, recognising the real-world benefits they offer with low emissions, fuel economy and a smooth, quiet and intuitive drive, backed with well-proven quality, durability and reliability. The technical advances have also enabled zero emission driving using electric power alone for longer distances and at higher speeds; the latest generation Toyota hybrids are capable of covering up to 50 per cent of the average European urban commuting journey in EV all-electric mode.
The rise in popularity is reflected in the rate of sales growth: up to the end of May this year, Toyota hybrid sales posted a 13.8 per cent increase on last year, while the figure for Lexus was 11.7 per cent. Together the two brands alone account for half the UK’s alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) market (49.4 per cent), currently selling five times the number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). While hybrid offers specific benefits to fleet operators and company car drivers, notably with low benefit-in-kind tax rates, the proportion of business and retail sales is near-equal.
To the end of May this year, hybrids accounted for 57.5 per cent of Toyota new car sales. The range extends from the Yaris supermini to the RAV4 SUV, further demonstrating how the system can be tailored to suit vehicles widely different dimensions and to meet equally diverse driving requirements.
Responding to customer preferences, Toyota this year introduced the all-new, British-built Corolla as its first model in Europe to be offered with a choice of two hybrid powertrains, adding a new 2.0-litre system with more power and responsiveness, while retaining the fundamental benefits of efficiency and low emissions. Further innovation has been achieved in the 2019 Prius, which is available for the first time with an intelligent electric all-wheel drive system, developed specifically for the car. Similarly, the new RAV4, also introduced this year, has an improved electric all-wheel drive system that significantly increases performance off-road and in slippery driving conditions.
With Corolla – Hatchback, Touring Sports and Saloon – RAV4 and the Camry saloon all introduced in 2019, Toyota currently offers seven different hybrid model ranges. Lexus has this year added the new UX compact SUV and ES mid-size saloon to bring its hybrid line-up to nine models.
Hybrid remains Toyota’s core technology for new powertrains, including the hydrogen fuel cell system deployed in its ground-breaking Mirai saloon, and its development of future all-electric BEVs.