Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada predicted today that hybrid vehicles are here for the long haul.
Uchiyamada’s comments further underscore the tone set at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, where scores of automakers unveiled hybrid concepts. Toyota still hasn’t unveiled the fourth-generation Prius, but is expected to show it soon; possibly during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show next January.
“Some people say hybrid vehicles such as the Prius are only a bridge to the future. But we think it could be a long bridge and a very sturdy one,” Uchiyamada said. “There are many more gains we can achieve with hybrids.” His comments are especially emaningful given the recent rush by manufacturers to offer fully elecrtic cars.
Rumors about the next Prius are nothing new and include speculation that the car could offer four-whee drive and that it will finally use a lithium ion battery. Mileage ratings are also subject to soothsaying, with many speculating the car will crest 60 mpg. Uchiyamada didn’t confirm specifics about the upcoming Prius, but hinted that those numbers are probably accurate.
“In each of the previous moves to a new generation, we achieved a 10 percent increase in mileage per gallon. “We are committed to beating that record this time,” Uchiyamada said. The current Prius is rated for an average 50 mpg, so beating a 10 percent gain could place it near the 60 mpg mark.
He also echoed a challenge Toyota North America executive Bob Carter declared late last month: that the automotive industry put five million hybrids on U.S. roads by 2016.
GALLERY: 2013 Toyota Prius
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