Toyota Issues Hybrid Challenge to US Auto Industry

Toyota Issues Hybrid Challenge to US Auto Industry

Toyota executive Bob Carter challenged the U.S. auto industry today in a call to increase the number of hybrid cars on the road.

“I would like to see us, as an industry, accomplish the same thing in the U.S.; that is… five million hybrids in the U.S. by close of business 2016,” he said during a speech made today in Ypsilanti, Mich. Carter was speaking to journalists assembled for Toyota’s Hybrid World Tour event, detailing the progress the brand’s hybrids have made since the Prius arrived in 1997.

Of the company’s total sales, Toyota counts hybrids as 16 percent of is total mix, up from 10 percent five years ago. Carter said global Toyota hybrid sales are above five million.

“It’s do-able.  And I believe we will do it,” he said of the challenge.

Since the Prius came online, hybrid drivetrains have come completely mainstream.

“[The Prius] has become a pop culture icon,” he said.

The idea of sharing propulsion between internal combustion and electricity was outlandish when the Prius was new. Now hybrids are more than fuel savers. Performance machines including the McLaren P1 halo car use hybrid powertrains.

There are more mainstream performance hybrids, too. Take the new Infiniti Q50 as an example. Soon it will be offered with a hybrid drivetrain that uses electric power and a 3.5-liter V6.

Within Toyota’s own line, hybrid drivetrains are available in a wide variety of products that include hatchbacks, sedans and SUVs in the Lexus portfolio and range downmarket to the Corolla family sedan.

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